Santa Fe, NM — A family has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit this week after a raid on their home left their children, ages 9, 10, and 12, injured and traumatized.
In May of 2013, multiple FBI agents descended upon the home of Abel Romero Sr., who was suspected of being a “street level drug dealer.”
Instead of knocking, or checking to ensure that there were no children in the home, officers carelessly threw a flashbang grenade into the home. The grenade blew apart the family’s living room door, shattered windows, and hit the 10-year-old boy, who was sleeping on the sofa, with shrapnel.
The explosion occurred with such force that it tore holes in the interior and exterior walls of the family’s trailer, according to the lawsuit.
“Screaming and crying, [the boy] was bleeding profusely, was in terrible pain, feared for his life, and was emotionally traumatized by the explosion,” the complaint says.
After they were also terrorized and traumatized by blast, the 9 and 12-year-old were ordered to leave the trailer by the agents and were injured as they walked barefoot through the broken glass, according to the suit.
FBI agents failed to mention in their application for a no-knock warrant that children lived in the home, and that grenades were to be used, the complaint says.
“Defendants know from their training and instruction that these explosive devices were never to be used in a room where minor children were believed to be located, ” the complaint says.
The suit alleges that the use of force by the FBI was unreasonable, it says Romero regularly left his family’s trailer and could have easily been arrested outside the home without endangering the lives of three small children.
“These are the wages of the failed war on drugs and rampant police militarization,” Peter Simonson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico said in response to this raid. “This is not the first time that officers armed like soldiers have injured innocent, sleeping children with stun grenades during a low-level drug raid, and if we continue along our current course, it won’t be the last.”
Simonson is referencing the tragic case of Baby Bou, who was literally blown apart by a flash bang grenade thrown into his crib by state agents in search of an illegal substance.
According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, FBI spokesman Frank Fisher of Albuquerque declined to comment on the lawsuit, which seeks an unspecified amount of compensatory and punitive damages.
If the war on drugs has shown us anything, it’s that the government will go to any lengths, up to and including disfiguring or killing innocent children in their immoral pursuit of prohibited substances. It is high time we end this evil war.