Pubdate: Thu, 26 Feb 2004
Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB)
Copyright: 2004, Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Dan Palmer
Bookmark: (Drug Raids)


A U.S. expert in police special weapons and tactics told a fatality inquiry 
yesterday a flash-bang could've caused two young men to let go of a balcony 
before falling to their deaths. "Their reaction could be to clench (the 
balcony) or let go," testified Ron McCarthy, a former member of the Los 
Angeles Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit.

"That could all take place because of the distraction device (flash-bang)," 
added McCarthy, dubbed the "Godfather of SWAT" by some officers.

McCarthy was testifying in Edmonton provincial court at the fatality 
inquiry into the deaths of Adam Miller and Huu Pham, 15.

The pair fell from a fourth-floor apartment balcony at 12925 65 St., on 
Sept. 24, 1999, as cops raided it during a citywide sting aimed at an 
alleged major drug gang. Miller and Pham weren't suspects.

Tom Engel, the lawyer for the Miller family at the inquiry, has contended a 
flash-bang thrown near the balcony as Miller and Pham climbed over the 
railing contributed to their fall.

McCarthy also testified that in some cases it's possible for people not to 
be disoriented by a flash-bang, which he called a "distraction device."

"Mentally deranged individuals can ignore it," said McCarthy, adding so can 
people very focused.

"There can be no reaction to it."

McCarthy also testified that hanging from a balcony is a pretty big focus. 
"How anybody could let go?" said McCarthy.

"I have never seen this before."

McCarthy said distraction devices when deployed can sound like a car 
backfiring, are bright enough to cause people to later see spots, and can 
create a pushing effect.
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