Ruby Johnson was at home minding her business in January when a small army of officers confronted her with automatic weapons. Instead of preventing crimes like mass shootings, another SWAT team traumatized an innocent Black woman in a wrongful raid.
What heinous crimes sent these brave law enforcement officers after a retired 77-year-old? Did this Black grandmother require that kind of firepower because she’s the next El Chapo? According to 9NEWS, the incompetent Denver Police Department violated Johnson’s rights and destroyed her home all in search of an iPhone.
“I didn’t want them coming in there shooting. I came out, and then they asked me, ‘Do you have a gun on you?’ I said, ‘No, why would I have a gun on me?’” Johnson recalled.
After Johnson complied with the police demanding over a bullhorn that she surrender outside, at least eight cops in riot gear bombarded Johnson’s home. Unsurprisingly, the overzealous assault didn’t result in stolen goods or any other criminal activity.
ACLU lawsuit claims the shady search warrant was illegal
According to a lawsuit the ACLU filed on Dec. 1, police botched the raid before it started with a sloppy investigation. Police were looking for a stolen truck believed to hold multiple guns, two drones, $4000 in cash, and an iPhone 11.
Check out the bodycam footage from the botched raid.
Johnson is suing lead detective Gary Staab for securing the search warrant with a “hastily prepared, bare-bones, misleading affidavit” relying on a ping from the missing phone. Allegedly misrepresenting this weak evidence to target Johnson’s home is illegal and violated her constitutional rights, the ACLU claims.
“On the authority of the illegally issued warrant, DPD showed up at Ms. Johnson’s home with an overwhelming, intimidating show of unnecessary force,” the court filing said. “Ms. Johnson went to her front door, disoriented and terrified, wearing only her bathrobe and bonnet.”
“She opened it to the sight of an armored military personnel carrier parked on her front lawn, DPD-marked vehicles along her street, and numerous men in full military technical gear carrying tactical rifles, a K9 German Shepherd in tow. Ms. Johnson was placed in the back of a marked police vehicle and ordered to wait there, guarded by an armed and uniformed officer,” it continued.
In Staab’s sworn affidavit, he said the “Find My” phone app placed the phone at Johnson’s location. However, the screenshot indicated that it pinged in the vicinity outside of Johnson’s home and was not an exact location. That didn’t stop officers from busting Johnson’s windows and breaking in doors.
“Crucially, if a device’s location cannot be determined precisely, the user will see a blue circle around the device’s marker on the map. The size of the blue circle shows how precisely the device’s location can be determined,” the complaint said.
“For example, the larger the circle; the greater the inaccuracy. This blue circle covered an area spanning at least six different properties and parts of four different blocks in the vicinity of [redacted] Street”
Same old excuses from the Denver Police Department
Although a 9NEWS investigation determined 64% of SWAT raids like Johnson’s happen in non-white neighborhoods, Denver police claim it had nothing to do with race.
“When a phone pings to a home if this phone was pinging in southeast Denver, Cherry Creek, we are still going to go in and get those guns,” said Denver police division chief Joe Montoya.
“I’m not going to second guess the investigation. The proper steps were taken. The place where that would have been questioned would have been the DA’s Office and the judge’s level. And they felt comfortable signing that warrant,” he claimed.
Despite obvious evidence to the contrary, DPD seems to have already cleared itself of any wrongdoing.
“We can always apologize and I’d be willing to apologize that there was a warrant issued and evidence was not found there. That’s a given, but I don’t think there was anything done to intentionally traumatize her,” Montoya continued.
It’s too late to worry about the intent for near-fatal incompetence that started with an alleged lie. Misconduct and mistakes behind these SWAT raids and no-knock search warrants already claimed innocent lives like Breonna Taylor, Amir Locke, Robert Adams, and Latoya James. Cops need to be defunded if this is the best police work they can do with their inflated budgets.