77-year-old woman sues Denver PD over SWAT raid
Denver, CO – Ruby Johnson, a 77yo former postal worker, was watching TV in her living room when Denver PD officers, together with a SWAT team converged on her house. Clad in tactical gear with rifles, the law enforcement agents used a battering ram to break down the rear garage door of Ms. Johnson’s home. Meanwhile, an officer armed with a loudspeaker ordered anyone inside to come out with their arms in the air. The only person inside was Ms. Johnson, who had to come out in her bathrobe and slippers. Why? All because a Denver PD officer decided to raid the house looking for stolen goods, all based on info he had got from a Find My Phone app.
The outrageous incident took place on Jan. 4, 2022. According to the lawsuit filed by Ms. Johnson’s lawyer this week, detective Gary Staab was working on a stolen truck case. The owner of the truck had reported that he had various guns, $4,000 in cash, and an iPhone 11 in the missing truck. The man used a Find My Phone app to locate his iPhone. A screenshot of the results shows the app indicated the phone was in a wider two-street area, but, for some unknown reason, detective Staab zeroed in on Ms. Johnson’s house. With nothing more than a vague app location, the detective managed to convince his superior and a judge to sign a search warrant.
The terrified woman was forced to wait in the back of a police van for several hours, while the police searched the house in vain. They also did considerable damage inside during their search.
Now, Ms. Johnson is suing Denver PD for unspecified damages. Denver PD has opened an investigation into the chain of events that led to the raid. They apologized for the incident and announced they looked forward to settling the case without further litigation. This means that once again Denver taxpayers’ money will be used to pay for the mistakes of their local police.
When can the police search your house?
Under Colorado and federal law, the police can search a property if they have a warrant issued by a judge. You have the right to read the warrant to verify that it is legal and accurate. Keep in mind that the Fourth Amendment protects citizens against unlawful searches and seizures. If the search was unlawful you must contact a reliable Denver police misconduct lawyer and file a complaint or a lawsuit.
Take your time to read the warrant. According to the law, the police must limit their search to the areas clearly designated in the warrant. For instance, if they have a warrant to look into your garage for a stolen vehicle, they have no right to search your living room. If that happens, get in touch with seasoned Denver lawyers. Items seized during an unlawful search cannot be used as evidence against you.
Can Denver PD search a house without a warrant?
There are certain situations when the police can enter a private property without a warrant. For instance, if they are in pursuit of a suspect they can enter a house or a yard without a warrant.
The same applies if they have reason to believe a crime may be in progress.
At the same time, you should keep in mind that if the police knock on your door without a warrant and you invite them into your house to search for whatever it is they’re looking for, the search is not illegal. Don’t let them bully you into letting them in because once you do that, you won’t have grounds to complain later on.
If you were recently a victim of any type of police misconduct in Denver, you should contact an experienced civil rights lawyer at the Bryan & Terrill law firm to see how to proceed with your case.
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