ST. LOUIS BATF RAID
At 4:30 a.m. on Wednesday July 13, 1994, a team of BATF agents executed a no-knock search warrant on the home of Monique Montgomery of 1268 Woody Grove in unincorporated west St. Louis county, near the city of Creve Coeur. They will not discuss the basis of the warrant except to say that it was a narcotics issue.
Ms. Montgomery was alone, asleep in her bed at the time of the raid. The BATF "entered" her home. Upon awaking, the woman armed herself with a legally owned 9mm handgun she kept by her bedside. The BATF claims they advised her four times that they were federal agents in her home with a search warrant, and to drop the gun. They allege that she continued to hold the gun on them and that they had no choice but to fire. She was struck by four 9mm bullets, survived and has since been released from the hospital. Her handgun was loaded, but not fired. No narcotics and no other firearms were found in her home.
A BATF agent who was at the scene, Gerry (or Jerry) Miller, claims the warrant was executed completely within BATF policys and guidelines. On July 22nd, when asked if any charges have been filed against the woman, Agent Miller answered that none were yet but there was a possibility assault charges would later be filed against the woman. He was asked how much time elapsed between the "entry" and the shots being fired, and said he couldn't say but that he would characterize it as a very short period of time.
BATF spokesman Larry Washington said that a decision on charging the woman will eventually be made by the US Attorney's office, but that there is a five year statute of limitations on that offense, so the decision may be some time coming. Gee, that sounds like "Don't p*** us off for the next five years, lady, by doing anything silly like suing us."
According to a St. Louis Post Dispatch account of the incident, the woman claims the agents did not make any announcements, and simply shot her as soon as they entered her room and found her armed. She claims she was not aware they were law enforcement officials until after she was shot.
Washington points out that the team that executed this warrant has been in place for three years, and that this is the first shooting. Over 150 search warrants have been executed by the highly trained team.
Now to some opinions and observations...
They execute warrants at that time of the morning because that is the time occupants are most likely to be in R.E.M. sleep, the condition which maximizes the time they will be disoriented upon being suddenly wakened. We cant know what Agent Miller's "short period of time" means, but it is reasonable to assume it's only a few seconds. A few seconds to be awakened from R.E.M. sleep by intruders crashing into your house, to grab the firearm you keep nearby to defend yourself, and sort out what to do as your bedroom fills with screaming flashlights, all trained on your face.
A few seconds to make the right decision to save your life. Remember, she did not fire. They claim she kept her loaded gun pointed at them, without firing it, and declined to obey four clear orders to drop it.
What does four warnings mean? Is that four guys yelling at once? yelling the same thing? Is it one guy yelling the same thing four times? Does it matter, a few seconds out of deep sleep?
Perhaps the lady was a "bad guy", perhaps not. We hopefully can assume that these warrants are not issued without good reason. But mistakes can be made. We do know that there was nothing illegal at her home at the time the warrant was served, and that she was not nearly as well armed as one would expect a drug dealer to be.
But in any case, bad guy or not, right house or not, the conduct of the BATF agents in this raid leaves extremely little possibility for a person who has legally armed themselves in self-defense to survive such a raid without being shot. Even if they gave the warnings they claim to have given, is it reasonable to expect that they were understood, and would be rationally re-\sponded to? Remember, the BATF chose to time the raid for the time that would result in maximum disorientation.
The facts related here came straight from the BATF. As did the claim that BATF policies and procedures were not deviated from in the slightest. That leaves us with a decision - is this the kind of conduct we are willing to endure in exchange for a more effective battle in the drug war? Or has a line been crossed - have the agents we depend on been INSTRUCTED and TRAINED to go too far? Remember, we are not talking about human error here. This one was by their book.
This site is still underconstruction, so please bear with us.
Return to the main entrance of ATF
Return to ATF Abuse Hearsay
If you have any data to share or report,
please email it here
Your name will be kept strictly confidential (unless you wish it otherwise)