Patterico's Pontifications


SWATting on Video

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:08 pm

Here’s an interview with a gamer who was SWATted:

His job is playing video games? OK.

Putting that to one side, I feel your pain, buddy. Here’s what makes this especially interesting: he was streaming his game when it happened. So you can watch the cops burst in.

Here’s the video. Fast forward to about 6:30:

Thanks to B.W.

51 Responses to “SWATting on Video”

  1. Ding.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  2. Did these thugs have the courage to leave real names and badge numbers? It was telling that they disabled the camera once they understood that they were being video recorded.

    What will these creatures be like after they’ve spent 15 years terrorizing civilians? Will one raid a week be enough to get them off, or will they be looking for new victims every night? What kind of person would enjoy standing on someone’s lower back while pointing a maching gun at the victim’s neck? Ready to kill for what reason?

    A little humility and an apology would be too much to ask of these officers of the peace. Instead, they’re probably carving notches in their Glocks.

    On the other hand, the gamer was given an introduction to reality. No jumping down 15 feet and walking away uninjured. Just get the F down and submit. Probably beneficial in the overall scheme of things. After he washes his underwear.

    bobathome (5ccbd8)

  3. They seem a little less than optimally polite, but that’s what happens when they think they’re dealing with a violent situation. Save a little bile for the SWATter?

    Patterico (9c670f)

  4. They were not that surprised at being swatted as if they put in their own call.

    AZ Bob (34bb80)

  5. No, he’s a gamer and figured out what was probably happening. I had a similar experience, since there had been a related one a week earlier that I already knew about.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  6. #3, Patterico, “Save a little bile for SWATer?” What SWATer? The entire 911 system is so porous that there is little reason to believe that calls about mass shootings, home invasions, and the like are real. It is nothing but a pretense in all likelihood. This would be especially true in Travis County, Texas if the alleged victim was a Republican. I doubt that calls about medical problems, fires, etc., are met with the same murderous enthusiasm. Indeed, if every call for emergency care resulted in a machine gun raid, then there would be little need for ambulances. Hearses would do just fine: your typical heart attack victim would surely be beyond help after being forced to the floor, handcuffed, and terrorized for ten minutes. And yet, the emergency responders we continue to support and respect are just as much at risk as the officers in this video if the victim is intent on doing them harm. This whole thing needs to be examined.

    For example, if you receive a call from a particular number, what happens if you dial that number? Are you connected with the real house, or is the SWATer able to intercept that call in addition to “forging” the “originating” number. I expect the call would go to the correct place. If so, there’s no excuse for a SWAT event. Even if the number is busy, law enforcement should have the ability to determine whether they are the recipient of the ongoing call without need of a search warrant or other court order.

    This whole thing is feeding into mass hysteria, and it is surely affecting the morale of our police departments. Certainly any decent man or woman who smashes into someone’s house and terrorizes them has got to feel bad about that. Eventually we will have only the rotten apples in our blue line.

    bobathome (5ccbd8)

  7. I’m more aligned with #2 the more I think about this. I’m not hearing professionalism from those officers, I’m hearing arrogance and entitlement. Wasn’t one of the lines “Don’t you f’ing move, you hear me boy?” And that was after the guy was on the ground and cuffed. His hands were up when the officers entered and he never struggled.

    I can see taking the stream down if the goal was to remove the source of entertainment for the swatter, but I rather doubt that was the motive at that point so early in the incident. What right did the officer have to interfere with private property beyond their physical safety or the conduct of a valid search warrant? Would they have immediately disabled a whole house or whole office video surveillance system during their operation? Do they have that right?

    Richard (01a2f5)

  8. It is interesting how he knew what was going to happen just moments before the cops burst through the door.

    Denver Todd (831352)

  9. The only people who don’t want to disclose the truth are those with something to hide.

    Barack Obama

    ropelight (623571)

  10. People from your government have come to help.

    No, seriously. It’s for your own good.

    gary gulrud (46ca75)

  11. The abuse is not the cops. It is the call that causes this. If you go and listen to the phone calls that are made, you will hear that a murder has occurred. This is not the fault of the police.

    AZ Bob (34bb80)

  12. I’ll have to listen again, but I’m pretty sure that just before they officer with the rifle steps off of the gamer someone says “oh shit, he’s streaming.” If that is the case, I have the feeling they would have been happy to keep stepping on his head for some time.

    Whoever made the false SWAT call deserves to be charged severely. Sadly, at least from what I’ve read here at your blog, the spoofer can’t be charged with assault or attempted murder. Yet the gamer was assaulted and could have been shot.

    I understand that the police entered the building with the adrenaline associated with entering a dangerous situation, but it seems to me that this kind of urban assault is default mode for what could begin with some simple surveillance. Police seem to be behaving like the counter terrorist squads from Rainbow Six (how’s that for an obligatory game reference) where they “breech, flash, and clear” instead of communicate, survey, and engage. The police are behaving in a military manner, but they are also doing so poorly. They completely lack situational awareness in most SWATting situations and that is a problem. They need to create training and protocol that allow them to engage appropriately.

    Nathaniel Wright (926226)

  13. I disagree “AZ Bob”, the police reaction is out of all proportion. The dumb clucks should already have figured out that something was amiss (ie a bogus call) within about 30 seconds of entering the building.

    Mark Johnson (aa1dda)

  14. Did it seem that the one officer, after the victim was on the floor, actually had a foot on his back, while holding a long gun on him? But he wasn’t watching the victim, but looking at the computer. Seems to be poor tactics, not being focused on where his firearm was aimed. If he was startled by something where he was looking, could he “accidentally” fire into the back of his victim? Particularly since he had uneven footing of one foot on a person?

    Loren (1e34f2)

  15. “Uh-oh, this isn’t good. They’re clearing rooms, I think we’re getting SWATted.”

    The writers of the Fourth Amendment are turning over in their collective graves. King of the castle, lord of the manor.

    carlitos (c24ed5)

  16. #11, AZBob, “This is not the fault of the police.” When Reagan was inaugerated in Jan. of 1981, the Iranians immediately released our embassy hostages. The Democrats were puzzled by this since they had been begging for their release for about a year and nothing happened. Several years later Pierre Salinger, JFK’s PR flack from the 1960’s, claimed that George H. W. Bush had met with the Iranians in Paris before the election to arrange for the continued humiliation of Carter and the release of the hostages. The only problem was that Bush was known to have attended public meetings in the midwest on the morning and evening on the day named by Salinger. The distance and time were such that if Bush had strapped on the proper spacesuit and boarded a specially configured SR71 at a nearby airport, it was just possible for him to have been in Pais in time for the meeting. This was a preposterous theory on any number of grounds, the main one in my mind being that Jimmy Carter was the Commander in Chief when this alleged event occurred, and I rather doubt that he would have authorized the flight. Nevermind the technical impossibilities, space suit, aerial refueling train, pre- and post flight issues, etc. Nevertheless, the Democrat take on this was that since the charges were so serious, it was imperative that the Democratic Congress investigate the allegation with great vigor. This charade was played out for months on the nightly TV news.

    So the “seriousness of the charges” was used as an excuse for total absence of responsibility and accountability. In same way, the police are suggesting that they are absolved of any responsibility for their behavior because of the apparent seriousness of the situation. Knowing that they can easily be fooled doesn’t seem to enter into their calculations.

    Louis Rukeyser, a popular stock analyst in years past, had this advice for stock holders in the middle of a panic: “Don’t just do something, sit there.” A tiny bit of foresight and a few technical tweaks could probably resolve the existing ambiguity without the need for armed invasions of homes and offices. These SWAT teams are probably very expensive to deploy, especially with the union rules that presummably govern their manning. Sitting there until the call can be independently confirmed could save a lot of innocent lives and allow our police forces to spend their money on more important things.

    bobathome (5ccbd8)

  17. Thank qualified immunity. I’d forget a Bivens action and sue under common law public nuisance to have those cops abated as unreasonably dangerous to life and property. Like an unfenced, unchained pitbull. They’d be necessary parties, but the gist of the action would be against their departments and state certification agency to take away their guns and police authority.

    nk (dbc370)

  18. It is interesting how he knew what was going to happen just moments before the cops burst through the door.
    Denver Todd (831352) — 8/29/2014 @ 6:31 am

    Did he have outside surveillance that is not being talked about?

    askeptic (efcf22)

  19. Did he have outside surveillance that is not being talked about?

    Or maybe someone on his game taunted him, like “Enjoy your time with the SWAT team. Knock Knock.”

    bonhomme (f31ab9)

  20. He kept turning around, apparently hearing the sounds of the team outside his door.

    carlitos (c24ed5)

  21. I don’t get the police hate on this issue. They acted very professionally with lots of restraint.

    I got some more details from the reddit thread on the issue. I was concerned about the cops shutting down the camera etc, but it is important to remember that it was a live feed and they were getting to a point where they were taking about personal information that the victim probably didn’t want disseminated live over the net. He was the one who told the officers about the stream and walked them through to the process of shutting them down.

    It could have ended really badly. One of the people that works there brings her dog to work. Good thing she was out that day. Also some of the gamer talk during matches would have sounded really bad and incriminating without context. Imagine you’re hollering for your teammates to shoot someone while swat is outside your door.

    The one thing that surprised me is how big the scope of the problem is. This particular event was huge. It shut down an entire school and an office building. I only know about swatting form the handful of Kimberlin blogger victims. Apparently swatting is endemic to the video game streaming community. One streamer has been swatted so many times, dispatch calls ahead to check before sending responders.

    ElSuerte (67a884)

  22. I guess I missed it—-what did the caller say was happening to have brought in the swat team? I can see that if some of the gaming shots noise was heard in the background of the 911 call it’d sound bad, but that almost guarantees the caller was in on the live stream and wanted to see the police action.

    elissa (9074dc)

  23. #20, ElSuerte, “… acted very professionally …”??? Check the tape beginning at 7:07 … “Get the F on the ground! … Don’t you F’ing hear me Boy! Don’t you F’ing move!” etc. Meanwhile, what appears to be a 12 gauge shotgun is being waved in a figure 8 trajectory that takes in lungs, liver, and heart of the “F’ing boy” while the holder is stepping on the gamer’s back and looking around. To the credit of the trainer of these thugs, the thug’s trigger finger is not on the trigger.

    The only “professional” in this event is the gamer. He is remarkably calm. At one point one of the “officers” asks the victim “So tell me, why are we here today?” Professionals would have asked that question before they charged into the office. This should be very embarrassing for all concerned in the raid.

    bobathome (03da93)

  24. #20, ElSuerte, “… acted very professionally…”

    Professional? Professional what?

    All of the shouting, epithets, etc… I can understand and accept. It’s a way to unbalance the opponent you think you’re facing.

    The unsafe and careless firearms handling, I can’t accept, but that can be rectified by discipline and training.

    The deliberate killing of the video feed is another manner. I’m not sure if it’s just Mickey Mouse arrogance, or calculated evil, but in either case, the bald thug (and yes, I use the word deliberately, based on his actions) should not be wearing a badge. Besides being immediately fired, he should be in front of a judge, explaining why he thought he could get away with destroying evidence.

    bud (30d398)

  25. “It was telling that [the police] disabled the camera once they understood that they were being video recorded.”

    Exactly right. At about the 11:10 mark on the second video. Mandatory police cams can’t come fast enough in my opinion.

    Brad (d06972)

  26. It’s always dangerous to say “I was a cop, but…” Witness the arrogance of the retired Philadelphia officer who showed up to pontificate in Ferguson, MO. Really … Philadelphia… the clichéd homeland of ‘police brutality’???
    I was a cop who pointed guns at a bunch of people, but – I can’t defend the police behavior in the video.
    In their defense, a tactical reason to shut down the video might be a concern that a live feed could be used by an attacker, the same reason police ask TV news not to show live footage of a SWAT assault.

    cm smith (e0e434)

  27. Mandatory police cams can’t come fast enough in my opinion.

    Oh, please. “It was broken” or “the tape ran out” will be uttered in court more often than “the dog ate my homework” is in classrooms.

    Retired Viking (5226e0)

  28. The mistake he makes is pointing out that the camera is on and streaming….

    Smock Puppet, "Si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses." (225d0d)

  29. Good Lord. Only two people on this thread recognize that the real issue here is the behavior of the SWATter and not of the police.

    Guys: they were certainly told that someone was armed and about to commit a horrible act. I do think police need more training on this — so that every cop (and dispatchr) is at least aware of the possibility that such calls are hoaxes. But some calls might not be. What would you have them do?

    Patterico (9c670f)

  30. Mandatory police cams can’t come fast enough in my opinion.

    Chest, back, and sides mounted. And not entirely anti-cop, either — Pretty much have settled that Ferguson, MO case in minutes flat. Of course, one aspect of this is obvious, if you think about it. The mechanisms can’t be under police control. That would offer too much opportunity for a Lerner permit… LOL.

    Smock Puppet, "Si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses." (225d0d)

  31. it’s kinda shocking though to see how dorky cops can be in real life

    they’re not cool like the tv ones

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  32. Personally, the media needs to quit downplaying the seriousness of these incidents. It’s not a ‘prank’ as they try to make it sound so innocent. Realistically, it is attempted murder. One wrong move by the victim and an already on edge officer may react poorly.

    In regards to turning off the video feed: IANAL, but couldn’t a case be made that by knowingly turning off the recording device that they were thereby destroying evidence?

    Dilligas (389b02)

  33. the worst case scenario is really kinda not super-dissimilar to what happened to that little girl with the uzi

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  34. The seriousness of the (supposed) threat does not relieve the police from the duty of acting responsibly. Their behavior is certainly dangerous. They are prepared to open fire under some rather loose ground rules. Property is destroyed (doors smashed in,) pets are liable to be shot out of hand, and any one who doesn’t submit immediately is fair game. Given that the 911 system has proven to be not reliable, a balance must be struck. Policemen are public servants, not shepards who can willy nilly cull the herd.

    bobathome (03da93)

  35. Okay Patterico,

    The problem is the lack of prosecutions for swatting. Some high profile felony convictions might cool down the pool of potential swatters. Heck even some high profile civil lawsuits might be an excellent idea.

    Swatters seem to me like the type likely to brag (at least online) so I would think vulnerable to real effort to catch them. Has any real effort been used to catch them? Or is the official attitude to minimize this crime as mere prank calls?

    Brad (d06972)

  36. Lerner permit

    Smock Puppet, may this become a household phrase. I love it.

    I think it is unrealistic to expect a dispatcher to realize a call is a swatting hoax in most (not all) cases. There are simply too many weird calls, and swattings are simply not that common. It seems prudent to check out these calls with an abundance of caution, and in cases where someone claimed to be an armed killer in a house, secure whoever is there, even some normal looking guy playing a video game, and then investigate. It’s hard to come up with a better way. I get the criticism of using SWAT teams for no-knock raids for non violent crimes, but I don’t understand how else they are supposed to react to a potential armed killer. This is what SWAT teams are actually for.

    I want to see more of these hoax callers go to prison. I want to see them charged with assault with a deadly weapon on every single man, woman, and child that was affected by their attacks. Until more examples are made, these attacks will keep happening. The perpetrators are cowards and will respond to seeing other cowards go to prison for a decade.

    Dustin (ced774)

  37. Iago: Heh, Othello, I made all that stuff up.
    Othello: You pig, you tricked me.
    Desdemona: I’m dead.

    nk (dbc370)

  38. The SWATters are taking advantage of a weakness in the system — the de-Andy Taylorization/Dirty Harryization of the police. From a practical standpoint, the part we can more easily do something about is the selection, training, and rules of conduct of the police.

    nk (dbc370)

  39. I was surprised to hear they kept the schools on lockdown even when it was immediately obvious there was no problem.

    MayBee (3e5aa3)

  40. There are phone systems for police that highlight suspect spoofed calls. Not expensive. The 911 system is too vulnerable to abuse.

    SarahW (267b14)

  41. And the non-emergency numbers, too, for that matter.

    SarahW (267b14)

  42. DejectedHead,

    That is not a real story. Here is video of the actual person crying in the picture used in the article. The image is taken from a sentencing of a guy named Dylan Schumaker who beat a kid to death for crying.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  43. Here is a detailed story on the hoax.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  44. Ah, good to know. Thanks for the response.

    DejectedHead (9b0c64)

  45. i’m torn about the hoax sentence

    but the hypothetical had an innocent person getting critically injured

    and we just can’t be having that

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  46. Strange that a news story like that was hoaxed. I fell for it.

    DejectedHead (9b0c64)

  47. There are phone systems for police that highlight suspect spoofed calls. Not expensive. The 911 system is too vulnerable to abuse.

    SarahW (267b14) — 8/30/2014 @ 1:06 pm

    That’s true. Unfortunately I don’t think that’s a long lasting or effective solution. Too many calls simply come from the internet (like calling from gmail). Area codes are meaningless too. If some nut prank calls the police from the other side of the country, even if from a cell phone sending GPS data showing the caller is on the wrong side of the country, the call will often be taken seriously anyway. And then there’s alternative ways of reaching 911, like text messaging, which is not commonplace today but is coming in order to better take calls from the deaf.

    I’m not really even sure why a swatter would spoof a phone number in the first place.

    In today’s liability averse world, most police commanders are going to want these calls responded to. Hopefully hoaxes are fishy enough that officers are advised this is potentially BS, but in a lot of cases, they are still going to secure the people at the reported location and then investigate. Which to the swatter, is a successful attack, and to the victims and the responders, still dangerous.

    But the quantity of actual SWATting calls vs the number of calls that were just weird and fishy but turned out to be something will be a powerful reason why the 911 system can’t be made abuse-proof.

    Dustin (7f67e8)

  48. In this satire about someone committing a crime that is being committed, and getting the penalty such a criminal ought to get, the humor is flying way over my head.

    Dustin (7f67e8)

  49. Patterico, I agree with you that the “blame” for this falls on the SWATter, who is the criminal that started this. I don’t agree with you that the police conduct was ‘professional’.

    SPQR (c4e119)

  50. SWATing should be investigated, prosecuted and sentenced as attempted murder.

    And cops who turn off or otherwise interfere with videoing their actions or tampering with the resulting evidence of their actions should be summarily terminated unless they can show it was imminently endangering a member of the public (other than the one responsible for the video, who is accepting the risk.)

    And qualified immunity must be made a historical anomaly. Public servants should be held to a higher standard, not a lower one.

    Dan (00fc90)

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