Use of Flash-bang Grenade by Police Questioned – State v. Fanelle

One of the tactics employed by police agencies when they serve search warrants is the use of the so-called “flash-bang” device. This non-lethal, explosive device creates an enormously loud noise and blinding light which is intended to briefly stun, disorient and distract the occupants of an indoor location while the police make a forced entry….typically under the authority of a “no-knock” search warrant.

In today’s Appellate Division decision, State v. Fanelle, the defendant challenged the use of a “flash-bang” device during the execution of a judicially authorized “no-knock” search warrant at his residence. The defendant also sought prior judicial authority for the use of this device.

The Appellate Division flatly refused to require prior judicial approval for the use of this tactical device. However, the Court also decided to remand the case to the Law Division for a further hearing on the specifics of the device and the establishment of a complete record upon which to assess whether the use of flash-bang devices is reasonable when police serve search warrants.

Download a copy of State v. Fanelle.

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