An elderly woman is suing a Denver police detective after he ordered a SWAT team to raid her home, per NBC News. The detective obtained the warrant by using the iPhone’s Find My feature, which falsely identified the woman’s home as the location of stolen firearms and a stolen iPhone.
According to NBC’s report, Denver Police Department Detective Gary Staab issued the warrant the day after a truck was allegedly stolen from the parking garage of a hotel. The vehicle held six firearms (including military-grade weapons), two drones, $4,000 cash and an old iPhone 11. Though the stolen items pose a concern on their own, Staab interviewed the truck’s owner to help him recover his things. The owner told him he may have found the location of his stolen items using the Find My app.
The app pinged the address of 77-year-old Ruby Johnson.
Without any further investigation, Staab based his issuance of the warrant on that information and sent a SWAT team to Johnson’s home on Jan. 4, per the complaint. Johnson said she was frightened upon seeing a team of men in military gear with tactical rifles and a K-9 show up outside her house demanding her to exit with a bullhorn.
More on the case from NBC News:
“The complaint alleges there were two main problems with that: first, Staab allegedly failed to attempt to independently corroborate the alleged location of the stolen items before carrying out the raid; and secondly, the “Find My” app is used to determine approximate locations and “is not intended as a law enforcement tool,” according to the complaint.
The area that was highlighted on the app as the possible location of the phone, for example, spanned at least six properties and four blocks, according to an image on the complaint that was also featured on the affidavit obtained by KUSA.
According to the filing, officers damaged Johnson’s home as they kept her sitting in a police car, even after she told them there was nothing stolen in the house. The complaint alleges they used a battering ram to “destroy’ the back garage door and door frame — even after Johnson gave them instructions about how to open the garage door.
Officers also “broke the head off one of Ms. Johnson’s prized collectable doll figurines that Ms. Johnson had cherished for nearly three decades as a gift from her youngest son,” the complaint states, adding that police also rifled through her belongings.”
After the cops basically destroyed her home, Johnson said she left to stay with her children in Texas for several months and was left traumatized by the event.
Johnson filed her suit with help from the ACLU of Colorado. The damages she’s seeking in her complaint are unspecified. However, the detective owes her a pretty penny for both the physical and emotional damage this sloppy mistake resulted in.