Check out Radley Balko’s blog post on flashbang grenades. Color me ignorant, but I had no idea they were this dangerous:
Charlotte, North Carolina, SWAT officer Fred Thornton was killed last month when a flashbang grenade exploded as he was securing his equipment in the trunk of his patrol car. This comes a few years after the federal government began a criminal investigation of a firm that manufactured faulty flashbangs, one of which prematurely detonated in 2008, causing permanent injury to three FBI agents.
The people on the receiving end of a flashbang grenade are undoubtedly just as unprepared for their effects as Officer Thornton or the FBI agents injured in 2004. The grenades and the raids in which they’re used are intended to take their subjects by surprise. The grenade’s specific purpose is to give officers a tactical advantage in situations where they’re entering a house or a room and have no way of knowing what’s going on inside. Which means they’re deployed blindly. Which means there’s a good chance the people subjected to flashbangs—which would include both suspects and innocent bystanders—are in just as defenseless a position as Thornton or the injured FBI agents were.
According to the family of Aiyana Jones, the nine-year-old Detroit girl killed in a police raid last year, the flashbang police tossed through her family’s window landed on her blanket, setting it and her on fire just before an officer mistakenly shot her. Flashbangs have set homes on fire (some resulting in fatalities), caused severe burns, and confused police officers into thinking they were coming under gunfire, causing officers to open fire themselves. The blinding, deafening effects have also induced fatal heart attacks. For all of these reasons, the NYPD, to its credit, has stopped using them.
Read the whole thing. There’s a lot more.