Huffpost Politics

Raid Of The Day: Laquisha Turner

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In 2008, FBI Agents raided the Richmond, California home of Artesia West as part of a drug and gang sweep. They were looking for West's son, who was wanted on drug charges, but didn't live at the house.

When West opened the door, she attempted to tell the agents they could search all they liked, but to be careful around her disabled daughter, Laquisha. Two years earlier, the girl had been left quadriplegic after she was struck by a bullet during a drive-by shooting.

But before she could speak, West later said, the agents "were coming in the side door shooting things.” The agents deployed flash grenades and repeatedly screamed at at the disabled girl to "get down." West told the San Francisco TV station KGO, "She kept telling them, 'I can't get down.'"

By design, flash grenades produce large plumes of smoke -- the intent is to distract and disorient the occupants of the residence about to be raided. But as the agents detained and questioned West while they searched her apartment, they left Laquisha Turner in the same room where they had set off the grenades. Because her injuries left her unable to move her wheelchair, she was forced to sit and inhale the smoke.

Turner fell ill after the raid, was hospitalized, and died a month later.

West blamed the smoke inhalation for her daugher's death. The December 2, 2008 KGO report indicated that autopsy results were due in a couple of weeks, but I've been unable to find any follow-up reports on whether the smoke was found to have contributed to her death. I've also been unable to track down Artesia West.

(The "Raid of the Day" features accounts of police raids I've found, researched, and reported while writing my forthcoming book Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces. It's due out in June, but you can pre-order it here.)

Filed by Radley Balko