Review board receives complaint from California resident about SWAT raid

Tuesday, June 22, 2010 | 3:27 p.m. CDT; updated 10:18 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, June 23, 2010

COLUMBIA — The Citizens Police Review Board has received its first appeal, a complaint from a California marijuana legislation reform activist about the Police Department's SWAT team.


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Ed Rosenthal of Green Aid complained to the Police Department, and then to the review board, after watching the YouTube video of the SWAT team's actions during a Feb. 11 raid at 1501 Kinloch Court. In this raid, the SWAT team killed a pit bull and injured another family dog. Police found a small amount of marijuana in the house. A child was also present during the raid.

Rosenthal is a representative of Green Aid, a medical marijuana defense and education fund. The group tries to use the court system to change marijuana laws.

Rosenthal filed an appeal with the Citizens Police Review Board on June 10 after Police Chief Ken Burton sent him a letter rejecting his initial complaint.

Anyone, including non-residents of Columbia, can file an appeal with the review board, Chairwoman Ellen LoCurto-Martinez said.

In both his formal complaint to the Police Department and his subsequent appeal to the review board, Rosenthal said the issue is one of Police Department standards.

"If that's usual police procedure, it gets down to the very management of the Police Department," Rosenthal said.

The incident also raises question's about Burton's role in the department. If Burton is protecting the officers who conducted the raid, he's a part of the problem, Rosenthal said.

"The police chief knew his officers were violating standard procedure and should work diligently to right this obstruction of justice," Rosenthal said in his appeal to the review board.

Rosenthal also suggested having a psychologist or psychiatrist examine the officers who participated in the raid to ensure they are competent to carry weapons. In his appeal to the review board, Rosenthal called the officers involved a "danger to society."

The review board is reviewing Rosenthal's complaint. Before it can consider an appeal, the board has to make sure the complainant first filed an official complaint with the Police Department, LoCurto-Martinez said.

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