Lawsuit: Clayton SWAT grenade badly burned woman in no-knock raid

Like the baby in Habersham County, a woman ended up in intensive care after Clayton County SWAT officers tossed a flash-bang grenade that she contends landed on her as she slept.

Treneshia Dukes, now 27, said in an ongoing federal lawsuit that police tossed the grenade through her bedroom window nearly four years ago when executing a “no-knock” search warrant. She spent three days in Grady Memorial Hospital’s intensive care burn unit.

“She was then in a wheel chair for a long period of time,” said the lawsuit in U.S. District Court against three Clayton police officers. “Dukes suffered severe, excruciating physical injuries.”

Dukes’ attorney Mario Williams told The Atlanta Journal Constitution Thursday that his client suffered third and second degree burns over her legs and torso. He said the raid in many ways mirrored the botched one in Habersham County last week. In both cases, he noted, the officers could have easily arrested their targets outside the home and returned to do a normal search for any weapons or drugs.

He said the use of flash-bangs had become institutionalized in Clayton County, at least until the raid in 2010. The lawsuit revealed that flash-bang grenades were being routinely used in Clayton — more than 200 in a three-and-a-half-year period, Williams said.

“It has just become, ‘If SWAT goes out we’re using flash bangs,’” he said.“They think it is a toy.”

It is not only the tactics and injuries that are similar to the raid that critically injured a 19-month-old baby in Habersham County last week. So were other outcomes: the injured party was not the target of the raid and police found little drugs when they arrested the suspected drug dealer.

Dukes was not charged with any crime. The target of the 5:30 a.m. raid was her boyfriend Jason Deandre Ward, who was charged with possession of marijuana — an ounce or less —with intent to distribute, Xanax and possession of two pistols by a convicted felon.

Ward was sentenced to total of five years on the drug and weapon charges and paroled after eight months in 2011, according to court and prison records.

The Clayton officers deny that they threw the grenade through the bedroom window, contending that two grenades were tossed outside the Riverdale house and one was thrown inside from the front door after it was breached.

But Williams said that assertion didn’t pass the smell test. The lawsuit accused officers of covering up the botched raid by not photographing the bedroom or the scorched blanket that had a hole burned in it from the grenade

Williams said the lawsuit which seeks punitive damages and unspecified compensation for medical bills and attorney fees.

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