Rickia Russell wins $1 million police brutality settlement after burns from flashbang grenade

Categories: Law, Police
flashbang damage.jpg
The flash-bang grenade caused third-degree burns to Rickia Russell's calf.
At around 8:30 p.m., two days after Valentine's last year, Rickia Russell was at her boyfriend's home. It was a week after her birthday, and they were settled in for the night with a friend. They drank vodka and dug into a steaming pot of jambalaya.

The apartment, at 5753 Sanders Drive in south Minneapolis, wasn't exactly a luxury building. Drug dealers used the lobby as their office. So when Russell heard footsteps pounding down the hallway, she didn't think much of it.

Suddenly, she heard a loud boom. The front door of the apartment swung open. Cops holding a battering ram stood in the gap. An officer in a helmet, goggles, and riot gear stood at the threshold. He looked right at her and, with an underhanded toss, lobbed a flash-bang grenade.
flashbangcalf2.jpg
"Something's wrong," Rickia Russell said. "It feels like my legs are on fire. My legs are burning."

An explosion ripped through the apartment. Smoke filled the air. The back of Russell's legs felt hot and wet.

"Get on the ground!" an officer commanded.

Russell lay flat as more than a dozen cops flooded the room. One of the officers tied Russell's arms behind her with plastic cuffs.

"Something's wrong," Russell said. "It feels like my legs are on fire. My legs are burning."

A cop came over and shined a light on the back of Russell's legs.

"Oh, fuck," he said. "We have a problem. Someone call an ambulance."
scalpgraft.jpg
Doctors had to use flesh from Rickia Russell's scalp for the skin graft for her calves.

Doctors immediately placed Russell in Hennepin County Medical Center's burn unit. They flushed her bloodied legs with saline to remove shards of the grenade. Both her calves had been eaten by third-degree burns from the flash-bang, which burns at 3,800 to 4,200 degrees.

The Minneapolis City Council agreed Friday to pay Russell $1 million in damages for the trauma inflicted by the city's cops and the errant flash-bang grenade.

"Using a flash-bang grenade with a knock warrant is nuts," says Bob Bennett, Russell's attorney. "What's the purpose of throwing a flash grenade when you're supposed to knock?"

Minneapolis police serve approximately 275 warrants (knock and searches) per year. The warrants don't give cops carte blanche to just barge in without warning. Most require cops to knock at the door, announce their presence, and wait a reasonable time before entering.

In order for cops to skip the knock-and-announce step, a judge must approve a special, no-knock warrant. To get one, cops have to show that there are special circumstances that cause imminent danger to officers, things like drugs and weapons. But in many cases, Minneapolis police barge in without knocking anyway.

"If they don't have a no-knock [warrant], they'll say they knocked, and they'll break down the door in two seconds," says Barry Voss, a criminal defense attorney.

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Hoodstar219
Hoodstar219

This is so sad how the police can treat people Like there nothing and get away with it I hope the little girls recover from the cops exposing them to things like this this is truly sad case of police stupidity

Strong_Girls__28
Strong_Girls__28

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Michael Nichols
Michael Nichols

Caroline apparently its a probelm nationwide, I live in Missouri and all someone has to do is call a 1800 number to report someone. So I got into a argument with some my renters, Breaking the lease they had signed. So they thought it would be oh so funny to call DFS on me, My daughter was 2 at the time. At first I thought it was a joke, But it became very serious quick. The lady stated that I sold HERION and I beat and dont feed my kid. WOW, I told her about the argument and the renter problem, Did not matter at all, Full investagation ordered on me and my wife. I was so scared my daughter was going to be taken, After it was all over I was trying to pursue a lawsuit against the people who called on me for reporting false statements. The state said I couldnt because the 800 numer is anonymous. How is that even legal.....

Smithemyjer
Smithemyjer

Moral of the story. Hate police, if you see the cops coming run. Teach your children to hate them as well. Don't trust anyone or put faith in God to protect you. Be your own defense and don't take crap from the man.

insaneredneck
insaneredneck

DAMN STRAIGHT, Fuck the police, the only good cop is a dead cop.

Tomdelay
Tomdelay

Caroline apparently its a probelm nationwide, I live in Missouri and all someone has to do is call a 1800 number to report someone. So I got into a argument with some my renters, Breaking the lease they had signed. So they thought it would be oh so funny to call DFS on me, My daughter was 2 at the time. At first I thought it was a joke, But it became very serious quick. The lady stated that I sold HERION and I beat and dont feed my kid. WOW, I told her about the argument and the renter problem, Did not matter at all, Full investagation ordered on me and my wife. I was so scared my daughter was going to be taken, After it was all over I was trying to pursue a lawsuit against the people who called on me for reporting false statements. The state said I couldnt because the 800 numer is anonymous. How is that even legal.....

Eat Bacon
Eat Bacon

"How is that even legal....."

That's a question I asked myself over and over again throughout the 2 years my investigation drug on, and every time they came up with some new reason to deny contact with my children. It's a question I cried into my hands when they callously terminated my parental rights because I refused to admit to what I was accused of, instead choosing to stand up for myself and fight the system.

Unfortunately, it IS legal, because our legislators have succumbed to the fear mongering and built this system, giving DHS unmitigated power and latitude, all in the name of "protecting the children" - in many cases against threats which aren't really threats.

You'll also find out that DHS is immune to civil suits and criminal charges - again by legislation which protects them. The only way to fix this horrible system is to completely dismantle it.

You got lucky, you didn't lose your child. For every one of you, there are 5 who's families and lives are destroyed by DHS.

Nana  Wu
Nana Wu

Another restaurant cliaimed to use fresh mozz arellacheese,where it's dishes were actually made with economy cheddar.the"fresh pasta"advertieshed on another meau tumed out to befrozen.--Agedate. c0m --a nice and free placefor younger women and older men,or older women and younger men,to interact witheach other.

Albatross
Albatross

Yo! City Pages Sysop!  Could we delete this message and the "Nana Wu" spams?  Thanks.

Nana  Wu
Nana Wu

Another restaurant cliaimed to use fresh mozz arellacheese,where it's dishes were actually made with economy cheddar.the"fresh pasta"advertieshed on another meau tumed out to befrozen.--Agedate. c0m --a nice and free placefor younger women and older men,or older women and younger men,to interact witheach other.

Nana  Wu
Nana Wu

Another restaurant cliaimed to use fresh mozz arellacheese,where it's dishes were actually made with economy cheddar.the"fresh pasta"advertieshed on another meau tumed out to befrozen.--Agedate. c0m --a nice and free placefor younger women and older men,or older women and younger men,to interact witheach other.

Nana  Wu
Nana Wu

Another restaurant cliaimed to use fresh mozz arellacheese,where it's dishes were actually made with economy cheddar.the"fresh pasta"advertieshed on another meau tumed out to befrozen.--Agedate. c0m --a nice and free placefor younger women and older men,or older women and younger men,to interact witheach other.

Christopher Bauman
Christopher Bauman

from the article " To get one, cops have to show that there are special circumstances that cause imminent danger to officers, things like drugs and weapons."

How do drugs pose a threat great enough to warrant (no pun intended) a no knock warrant?  It's not like a nugget of Cannabis, a crystal of crystal meth and a rock of crack cocaine are all armed with ak47's pointed at the doors and windows.

No... it's the people who are dangerous and if they are armed (verified armed, I should say) or perhaps have a chemical lab for drug manufacturing that could be explosive.. then perhaps I could see, maybe....  (throwing flashbangs and whatnot probably wouldn't be wise in a drug lab with flammable vapours.)  but wtf.

Most cops I've met have been pretty nice people, but they all need to learn that none of their arsenal is non-lethal,  they are "less-lethal".  It's not like shooting someone with a squirt gun where everyone can laugh about it afterwards.  they may not be military grade, kill/maim/destroy everything in a certain radius type of weapons, but they are more then capable enough of killing someone if not permanently maiming them as in this article.

Oh, and I see a comment stating that a video feed of every knock warrant should be required.  why just knock warrants?  every warrant served PERIOD should be required to provide full video documentation of everything.

and as a side note, in the United States where in most states, if not all, you are allowed to own a firearm to defend your home/family/self. do you excuse police shooting and killing or maiming someone who had no drug use, or drugs on the property, yet merely tried to defend their family from what they though were intruders (no knock warrant afterall)?.  You could be dead simply from trying to dial 911 from a cell phone because the police "thought" it was a "gun".

Shawnzaa
Shawnzaa

Police should be required to video document every single knock warrant served, to prove they knocked and waited the designated amount of time.  MPD seems way too eager to play SWAT.  As a Mpls tax-payer it pisses me off that my property taxes get higher and higher and MPD and the city keep needing to pay out damages for incidents which should never have happened in the first place.

green23
green23

What this shows is that you don't have to break the law to be treated like a violent criminal by the police. If you have a *relative* who does something stupid, you can get beaten, have your house searched, and your pet killed in front of your children.

In point of fact, your relative doesn't even have to actually *do* anything stupid. They merely have to be *suspected* of doing something stupid, because some low-life gave out their name to get the cops off their back, or to settle a score, or pick up some quick cash as an informant.

Why aren't the judges who signed these warrants held accountable? Sure, they weren't executed properly, but all three of the examples presented were based on flimsy, out-dated facts or completely unsubstantiated rumour. The judges who sign warrants are supposed to be looking out for the rights of citizens. Instead, they are just a rubber-stamp hoop for the police to jump through.

Any one of these stories could be YOU if an "ex" wants to get back at you. There's no real consequences for making up a story that you're running a meth lab in your home or that you are the guy who robbed a store last week. Unless it involves unicorns or pixies, their story will be enough "evidence" for a judge to sign a warrant.

Caroline Mannheimer
Caroline Mannheimer

The same is true for Child Protection Services. I'm curbing my urge to put quotes around child protection as Hennepin County's child welfare department is anything but.

When a false get-back-at-you letter was written to them about me, and 4 huge sheriffs came on a Friday afternoon of a holiday weekend for her (they apologized the entire time as it was obvious she was perfectly happy, safe and well cared for), and after the longest 3 day wait of my life, a judge explained to me that since Child Welfare was Civil court that *no evidence* was needed to remove the child from the home. Once I was accused the burden of proof was now squarely on my shoulders to prove the charges wrong. And since this letter-of-lies was 3 pages long and had so many accusations, they felt justified in, what I saw as, kidnapping her. Legally, yes, but immoral through and through. It took me a $5,000 attorney and 3 months of bi-weekly urine tests and supervised visits to get her, my only child, back. I lost my 6 year relationship with the love of my life due to the horrific stress over the whole nightmare. My career sputtered out. My mental state was precarious at best. Worst of all, she was in a home with 5 other kids with an elderly woman and her son taking "care" of them all. My beloved 3 year old daughter stayed there for a month while she reported to me that one of the other children "kept getting into her bed". My baby came back home knowing swear words and wanting Pepsi and other sodas that I'd so carefully kept her away from before. She had begun to call someone else "mom". She was sad and confused, the complete opposite of everything she had been before. All for what? Because someone wanted to get back at me and the law did not protect her. I have a friend who's daughter was raped by a neighbor of the foster parent while in "custody". My friend had some issues with prescription drugs, yes, but would never have allowed her kid to be with this boy unsupervised. 5 years later, her child is not doing well, on medication and in therapy.

It's obvious between the "gung-ho"cops in Minneapolis and the incredibly incompetent, so-called Child Protection, Hennepin County has MUCH to fix.

Eat Bacon
Eat Bacon

Caroline, I genuinely feel for you. I lost my two children 3 years ago to unsubstantiated false accusations. Once you're accused, you don't stand a chance and it's guilty until proven guilty. After two years and $80,000 of fighting to get my children back, they just terminated my parental rights.

This took place in Colorado, so it's not only limited to Hennepin county - during my fight, I discovered it's a nationwide problem. In one county in the upper east (I don't remember which one, there was a statistic that 1 in 5 children will endure the pain of a social service investigation by age 12.

And we're left picking up the pieces of our lives. Sue the living crap out of them if you can, it's the only way they'll learn they can't do what they do.

I hope you and your daughter can get through it and recover.

green23
green23

These are incredibly sad stories. I hope that your daughter can get over this experience.

This is also a waste of resources in every regard. Even worse, these false accusations create a 'history" that can then be used to justify further raids and "investigations", and more forced entries that can result in expensive settlements and more trauma.

Years ago, an upstairs neighbor of mine had their door broken in and held at gunpoint while her apartment was "tossed" in a search. Her furniture (what little she had) was broken, and she was evicted by the landlord due to the damage, losing her deposit.

The reason? Two months earlier, the previous tenant had moved out, but he had a warrant out for him. The police could have simply asked the landlord and avoided the raid, but instead the out-dated address was enough "evidence" for a warrant.

The most frustrating thing is that everyone assumes that you must be involved in criminal activity if this happens to you. It's "guilty until proven innocent", and there is no way to prove your innocence. Even if you aren't arrested, people think that you "got away with it" - whatever "it" might be is left to wild imagination.

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