Top 8 DEA/Cop Fails
From mistaking vitamin powder for illegal drugs to chainsawing down the wrong door, here are some good old tales of fails from the US Department of Justice.
Some good ol’ tales of fails from the US Department of Justice.
1. DEA Harasses Photographer
A man video recording a DEA building in Texas was subject to harassment by agents who ordered him to turn off his camera and provide identification. When he refused, he was told he could be arrested for trespassing and violating national security. A settlement in 2010 with Homeland Security confirmed that the man was not doing anything illegal, nor was he threatening national security. Really, DEA? National Security?
2. DEA Works with Fake Financial Planner
According to USA Today, the DEA received warnings about a Florida money manager who used investments from DEA employees to fund a Ponzi scheme and pay for his expensive lifestyle. Although he had very little formal training, he conducted more than 130 financial seminars for the DEA. Nice background checks, guys.
3. DEA Arrests Wrong Man
A man spent two weeks in jail when he was arrested on drug charges despite having done nothing wrong. CBS reports Gerber Guzman was a victim of identity theft more than five years ago and an arrest warrant was accidentally issued for him. This is the second time Guzman has spent two weeks in jail for something he didn’t do.
4. Agents Chainsaw the Wrong Door
Imagine being in your home with your three-year-old daughter when police — attempting to conduct a raid at apartment 2F — chainsaw the door to your apartment, which is 2R. That’s what happened to Judy Sanchez, whose door was broken down while her daughter screamed in the next room. CBS notes police later apologized for the incident, but Sanchez was not impressed (obviously).
5. Agents Break Man’s Arm, Fail to Find Drugs
A police raid left 54-year-old Tomas Torres with a fractured arm after police broke down his door, punched him in the face and stomped on his head. Police said he resisted their attempts to detain him, but in the end failed to find any drugs on his property. When Torres was released from the hospital, he reportedly returned home to find police had trashed his apartment. Real cool, DEA.
6. Woman Receives $1 Million Settlement After Botched Raid
Rickia Russell was visiting her boyfriend’s apartment when police conducting a drug raid tossed a “flash bang” grenade under the couch she was sitting on. Russell suffered severe burns and underwent skin grafts following the raid, which failed to turn up either the drugs or the drug dealer police were looking for. In 2011, Russell received a $1 million settlement.
7. Marine Dies In Unnecessary Raid
The family of Jose Guerena was given a $3.4 million settlement after a SWAT team raided Guerena’s home in Arizona and shot him 71 times within seconds of busting through the door. Guenena’s wife and son, who were hiding in a closet, were not shot. A lawsuit alleged the SWAT team was negligent and did not call in medical treatment for more than an hour.
8. Man Spends Months in Jail Over Vitamin Powder
Joseph Ray Burrell spent two months in jail after he was pulled over for driving without his lights on. When police searched his car, they found a powder they thought was illegal drugs. Instead, the substance was vitamin powder. It took a month for the powder to be sent to a crime lab and another month for results to come back, during which Burrell stayed in prison.
Header image Hans Gerwitz