TUCSON, Ariz., June 2, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) released the following statement concerning a night-time no-knock raid on a home in Georgia that left a toddler in critical condition:
"We see an increasing number of reports of SWAT-team raids on American homes and also physicians' offices as part of the 'War on Drugs.'
"Last week such a raid sent a 19-month-old child to a critical care unit with serious facial burns and shrapnel in his chest, after police threw a 'flash-bang' grenade into the playpen where he was sleeping. He was put into a medically induced coma, and was said to have a 50 percent chance of survival.
"His family was staying with relatives near Atlanta because their home in Wisconsin had burned down. Based on a report from a confidential informant about methamphetamine sales at the house, police obtained a no-knock warrant. The suspect, Wanis Thometheva, was not in the house at the time of the raid, but was arrested later.
"Police, who stormed the house after midnight, said they saw no toys or other evidence that children might be present. The child's mother said that their van, which contained four children's car seats, was parked in front.
"The family is uninsured and has started a fund to help pay the costs.
"Cornelia police chief Rick Darby told WSB-TV Channel 2 that they would be more careful in the future. But police defend the need for such raids to protect officers and prevent destruction of evidence.
"'Even if the suspect is guilty as charged, he will not be sentenced to have his face burned and his lungs injured with shrapnel," states AAPS executive director Jane M. Orient, M.D. "Such painful punishments are not in our penal code and would be considered barbarous. Even executions are supposed to be painless.
"'This child's suffering is collateral damage in a war. The War on Drugs has become a war on people. It is establishing a precedent for law-enforcement's use of military shock-and-awe tactics with impunity.
"'All Americans, especially physicians, should be deeply concerned about the consequences of abandoning our Constitutional protections against governmental abuse.
"'This child's scarred face is not the first and will not be the last tragedy.'"
The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) is a national organization representing physicians in all specialties, founded in 1943 to preserve private medicine and the patient-physician relationship.
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Jane M. Orient, M.D., (520) 323-3110, email@example.com