POLITICS

Raid Of The Day: Brenda Van Zwieten

A police SWAT team search houses for the second of two suspects wanted in the Boston Marathon bombings takes place April 19,
A police SWAT team search houses for the second of two suspects wanted in the Boston Marathon bombings takes place April 19, 2013 in Watertown, Massachusetts. Thousands of heavily armed police staged an intense manhunt Friday for a Chechen teenager suspected in the Boston marathon bombings with his brother, who was killed in a shootout. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, defied the massive force after his 26-year-old brother Tamerlan was shot and suffered critical injuries from explosives believed to have been strapped to his body. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Note: The "Raid of the Day" features accounts of police raids I've found, researched, and reported while writing my forthcoming book Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces. It's due out in July, but you can pre-order it here.

Brenda Van Zweitan, 51, was shot and killed during a 2010 drug raid on her home by the Broward, Florida Sheriff's Department. According to police, Van Zweitan was holding a handgun when they approached her in the home, and then refused to drop it when ordered to do so. Van Zweitan's boyfriend was arrested without resistance.

In the weeks before the raid, however, Van Zweitan had been robbed, and the man she believed committed the robbery had threatened her on the Internet. Her friends and family also pointed to the fact that she had no prior criminal record, and that the police entered the home in a particularly aggressive and terrifying manner -- by smashing through a sliding glass door -- to suggest that she likely wasn't aware that the armed intruders in her home were police. Van Zweitan was also a PTA member, a grandmother, and a local political and environmental activist.

The raid came after two suspects police had arrested claimed to have bought marijuana and prescription drugs from Van Zweitan. The police reported finding prescription pills plus small quantities of a variety of illicit drugs in the house, although Van Zweitan's boyfriend was charged only for possession of marijuana. (Her family said after the raid that she had valid prescriptions for the pills.) The SWAT officers who shot her were later cleared of any wrongdoing.

Van Zweitan was the third person in five years killed by area SWAT teams conducting drug raids.

Sources: Mike Clary, "Friends and relatives remember Pompano Beach grandmother killed in drug raid," Sun-Sentinel, March 15, 2010; Michael Mayo, "After another fatal SWAT drug raid, is it time for better approach?," Sun-Sentinel, March 24, 2010.