Breaking: Police are terrible at their jobs.

Denver police in SWAT gear raided Johnson's Montbello home looking for a stolen cellphone that had pinged in the area.

Johnson, in her bathrobe, opened her door when an officer on a bullhorn told anyone inside to come out. Officers carrying rifles stood on her lawn next to an armored tactical vehicle. One officer held the leash of a German shepherd K9.

Once inside her home, Johnson said, they smashed a door to her garage with a battering ram, broke apart a ceiling panel, broke the head off of a beloved collectible doll and left the house in disarray. [...]

The search warrant followed a report of a truck stolen from a Denver hotel. The owner of the truck said there were five handguns, a rifle, two drones, $4,000 in cash and an iPhone in the vehicle when it was stolen [...]

The following day the truck owner told Staab that he used the Apple "Find My iPhone" app [...] The truck owner rented a car and drove by Johnson's house and told Staab that he didn't see his truck but it could be in the garage. [...]

The search warrant never should have been approved, according to Johnson's lawsuit. Staab never tried to corroborate the truck owner's findings and never conducted an independent investigation before filing the request, the lawsuit states. The "Find My iPhone" app gives an approximate location and is not meant to be a law enforcement tool. [...]

"The screenshot offered no basis to believe McDaniel's iPhone was likely to be inside Ms. Johnson's house, rather than on any of several neighbors' properties, or discarded on a nearby street by a passing driver," the lawsuit states. [...]

The police department did not pay Johnson anything to repair the damage to her home, said Greg Brunson, Johnson's son. The family and their friends sent numerous emails to the department in the months after the incident asking for an apology but never received one, he said. [...]

The investigation into the stolen truck remains open and nobody has been arrested, Denver police spokesman Doug Schepman said.

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19 Responses:

  1. 5

    And if she tries to sue them to cover the damages, the courts will say the police are protected by qualified immunity--a doctrine that has no basis in the Constitution, common law, or statute, but which instead was made up by the courts out of whole cloth so the police could bust heads with impunity during the civil rights era.

    • Tom says:
      2

      The individuals have qualified immunity, but the department does not.  Police departments do not get this protection whole cloth and are sued, and lose, in this country almost every day.  

      • 2

        I'm in no way an expert on §1983 claims, but my understanding is that a suit against the department would have to be a Monell claim--and those are harder to prove, as they generally require evidence that the violation was the result of a policy or custom of the department, rather than a "one-off" act.

        • Tom says:

          The legal hurdles to prove negligence and win a civil judgement against a department are orthogonal to the fact that there is no qualified immunity for departments.

          • joe luser says:
            1

            you guys know more about these things than i do but the article says, "Johnson on Wednesday sued the Denver police detective who led the case, Gary Staab, alleging the search violated her civil rights"

            is this going to be a hard thing to win?

            • Carlos says:
              1

              In short, almost probably "yes".

              The qualified immunity doctrine - some would say "scam" - says that if government officials (typically police) violate the constitutional rights of a person, they cannot be held responsible for that violation unless it was "clearly established at the time" of the incident.

              What this basically means is, there has to be another case, from the same federal circuit, where police were sued (and won, due to QI) but which decision therefore "clearly established" the specific circumstances were actually a constitutional violation.

              Police beat a man into a coma with their nightstick?  Oh, clearly established by case X in the Fifth Circuit.  But some cops in a city in the Fifth Circuit beat a man into a coma with a broomstick?  Oh totally different, so it wasn't "clearly established".  They get QI too.  And the next cops, who used a 2x4.  etc.

              C.

            • elm says:
              1

              https://www.kxlf.com/news/national/an-inside-look-at-colorados-year-old-qualified-immunity-ban

              Colorado has a law (from 2020) against qualified immunity. It has limits, but it's better than before.

  2. dzm says:
    1

    I'm always curious what the fella in the pop-up hatch is supposed to be accomplishing. When they're not trashing some nice old woman's house. What purpose does that serve? In combat situations I guess, maybe, that could be used as a turret mount or something. On on military-gear-repurposed-as-cop-van? Do they take turns up there? Is it just like a dog hanging its head out the window, or is it a hazing thing, or is there some "operational" rationale for "Pvt. Jones! You stand in the turret-hole up there while the rest of us tear the heads off this nice lady's dolls!"

  3. CSL3 says:
    2

    The following day the truck owner told Staab that he used the Apple "Find My iPhone" app

    Oh, well, there's his mistake: if you wanna track down somebody that doesn't wanna be found, you're supposed to use AirTags - the Apple product du jour for countless stalkers.

  4. Biff Tannen says:
    1

    ACAB

  5. joe luser says:
    7

    i was certain that when i clicked on the article, i would learn that the lady is black. and whaddaya know, she's black! what a coincidence

  6. Birdy says:
    1

    No matter how many times I see this sort of absurd almost videogame-violence-esque overreaction from American police, I'm never really prepared for it. I know that the police will do what they do because ACAB, but this is cartoonish. It would be funny except that there is absolutely nothing funny about what it does to people.

  7. Elusis says:

    And right there on the same page under "related articles":  Example #2

    And in my paper:  Example #3 Example #4

  8. Interesting choice of uniforms there… “Oh, it looks like military uniforms you say? Oh nevermind, pure coincidence of course!”

  9. David Fetter says:
    2

    They are just fine at doing their actual job: terrorizing those deemed less on behalf of the powerful. We need to quit pretending that they have some other job and eliminate them as an institution entirely.

  10. SteveSmith says:

    How long before they send in murder drones to do this job?  (cf: Minority Report (the film))

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