Sunday, January 13, 2008

SWAT outrage of the week

By Libby

As I often say, when we allowed the civil rights of drug consumers to be abridged because who cares about druggies anyway, it would come back to haunt us. The government won't stop there; they'll just keep pushing the envelope and here's a case on point. This one wasn't over drugs, it was about the refusal of medical care.

Nearly a dozen members of a police SWAT team in western Colorado punched a hole in the front door and invaded a family's home with guns drawn, demanding that an 11-year-old boy who had had an accidental fall accompany them to the hospital, on the order of Garfield County Magistrate Lain Leoniak.

The boy's parents and siblings were thrown to the floor at gunpoint and the parents were handcuffed in the weekend assault, and the boy's father told WND it was all because a paramedic was upset the family preferred to care for their son themselves.
The basic story here is the kid fell down and hit his head. He comes from a poor family living in a trailer park in Glenwood Springs, Colorado and is one of six of ten siblings still living at home with his parents. One suspects they can't afford health insurance.His father was a medic in Vietnam and opted to take the kid home instead of to the hospital.

Apparently a witness to the fall called an ambulance anyway, and the paramedics showed up at the house uninvited and were allowed to check the boy out. They found no evidence of traumatic damage but wanted to take the boy in to the hospital for testing. The father refused.

The next day social services showed up and examined the child. They took no action at the time. Now two days later...
[F]ollowing an afternoon shopping trip to town, the family settled in for the evening, only to be shocked with the SWAT team attack.

The sheriff said the decision to use SWAT team force was justified because the father was a "self-proclaimed constitutionalist" and had made threats and "comments" over the years.

However, the sheriff declined to provide a single instance of the father's illegal behavior. "I can't tell you specifically," he said.

"He was refusing to provide medical care," the sheriff said.
Now to begin with, the estimated population of Glenwood Springs in July 2006 was 8765. Why the hell does a town of that size even need a SWAT team? They don't and if not for the forfeiture laws, they wouldn't have been able to afford one.

In the second place, the father made a decision that all too many uninsured families are forced to make. He had to balance the medical need against the financial debt he would incur by playing it safe. He was within his rights to make that decision on the side of being able to feed his family instead of paying huge hospital bills. Finally, Radley has an update and "as it turns out, the kid was fine. After the raid, a doctor examined him, and told him to drink some fluids and take a Tylenol." So the father made the right call.

Which leaves us to ponder justifying the raid because the the father is a "self-proclaimed constitutionalist." I take that to mean that the dad values his privacy and doesn't want the government sticking its nose into his business. One guesses he doesn't like cops and the cops don't like him. But whatever the particulars are in this case, it should be a matter of great concern to all of us when our government can forcibly enter our homes and enforce their own judgements on what should be entirely private decisions. Isn't that the definition of a police state?

[h/t Peter]