COLUMBIA — The disappointment was tangible outside of City Hall, where public safety interest groups CoMoCitizens and Keep Columbia Free hosted a gathering after the Citizens Police Review Board meeting Wednesday evening.
Members of both groups, which were formed in the spring, expressed disappointment that the board didn't require an independent investigation of the police conduct in the Feb. 11 SWAT raid. Instead, the board voted 4 to 3 to accept the chief's ruling that the officers acted appropriately during the raid. A pit bull was killed and a smaller dog injured in the raid. A 7-year-old was also in the house.
California resident Ed Rosenthal, who filed the appeal with the board, flew in from California to speak at the meeting and address the roughly 20 people attending the gathering.
Here's a little of what they had to say. (Click on the names to hear audio comments.)
"This (incident) is not isolated. Don't sweep this under the rug. One of those dead dogs could just as easily have been that 7-year-old."
— Mitchell Richards of Keep Columbia Free, a group that aims to protect civil liberties and natural rights
"It's Rodney King, if you will. What's happened isn't unusual. What's unusual is that it was filmed. That's what makes this case so special, and that's why this case will not die."
— Ed Rosenthal, representative of Green Aid, a medical marijuana defense and education fund
"I would've liked to have seen more discussion about the fact that seven shots were fired in the home, and one of those shots accidentally hit (a small dog)."
— Erica Warren, co-founder of CoMoCitizens, a group that aims to end SWAT involvement in non-violent crimes
"We recognized that there were huge mistakes made here. There was an admission to those mistakes, and now it's time to move on."
— Susan Smith, Citizens Police Review Board member, who created the board's recommendations
"As far as not really looking into the case, really, it seems like they wanted to push it away as soon as possible. I don't think they spent enough time on it."
— Donald Warren, co-founder of CoMoCitizens
"I hate to sound so narrow and technical, but there is only so much that we get to do as a review board, some of which they (the public safety interest groups) don't understand."
— Steve Weinberg, Citizens Police Review Board member who proposed the amendment about checking for minors on the premise
"I think we handled it very well. I think we have a lot of independent thinkers, and I think we all had a chance to express our views and the majority voted."
— Ellen LoCurto-Martinez, Citizens Police Review Board member
Tim Wall contributed to this report.