Robbie Johnson stands outside her Colorado home as a Denver Police SWAT team storms it. (Screenshot from body camera footage)
A Colorado grandmother had a full-fledged SWAT raid on her home in January, all thanks to a detective who used a screenshot of the inaccurate iPhone app “Find My” to obtain a search warrant. The lawsuit was filed in the county court Claims last week.
Retired postal worker Ruby Johnson, 77, was home alone watching TV Jan. 4 when she heard an air horn, followed by an intense voice by the speaker ordering all the residents of her home in the Montebello neighborhood to come out with their hands up. says the suit. Wearing a bathrobe, house slippers, and a hood on her head, she walked out the front door of her home and was met by an armored truck, unmarked vehicles, uniformed officers with rifles, and even a K-9 dog.
“Is anyone else in the house?” a Denver police officer asked Johnson, according to body camera footage Acquired by the local NBC News affiliate 9News earlier this year.
“No, nobody’s home,” she tells him, standing in the back of the armored car. She also assures the officers that she is keeping her doors closed.
She told them, “This is strange.” “I mean, I see things like this in movies, but I never thought it would happen to me.”
The officers were there to carry out an order obtained by Det. Gary Staub, who was investigating a truck that was stolen on Jan. 3 that contained $4,000 in cash, a tactical rifle, four handguns, a handgun, two drones, and most importantly to the investigator’s investigation, an iPhone 11.
During a phone interview with the truck’s owner the morning after the truck was stolen, Stubbe was told that the location of the iPhone had last been seen at Johnson’s home twice using Apple’s “Find My” app before it disappeared. Although the owner couldn’t find the stolen phone or truck himself when he drove by, he told the detective he suspected it could be parked in the garage of the Johnson home.
Staab, using a screenshot of the phone’s alleged location and the victim’s claim that the Find My Phone app was accurate enough to locate his devices within five feet of his location in the past, was able to obtain a warrant about the raid from a Denver District Court judge.
However, the screenshot in question shows that the stolen iPhone 11 was last seen not on Johnson’s property, but somewhere near her home and at least six others.
Apple’s Find My app isn’t always clear about the exact location of users’ device. presents instead an approximate location in these cases, as indicated by a radial circle. Apple even recommends Private Legal Process Guidelines Law enforcement must request that the devices be located through the manufacturer.
The warrant authorizing the unlawful search of Mrs. Johnson’s house [was] A hastily prepared, misleading affidavit was issued on Defendant Stubbe’s testimony,” the suit states. “The affidavit provided no independent basis whatsoever for confirming a connection to Mrs. Johnson’s home.”
Johnson is placed in the back of a police car, according to body camera footage, as the cops thoroughly search her belongings, destroying some of her possessions, including a collectible doll and the locks of her garage as well as standing on newly purchased furniture to search her attic. After hours of searching, the police found nothing incriminating and finally let her go.
No one apologized or explained the exact reason for the raid, according to the lawsuit, and Johnson says she was physically and emotionally traumatized by the officer’s actions. Immediately after the raid, the lawsuit says, she spent the week at the home of her daughter, who lived nearby, before spending the next three months with her son in Houston, Texas.
“She transcended the memories of the four decades she experienced there through an unlawful police search that redefined what her home meant to her,” the suit says. “It is no longer a refuge, but a reminder of its vulnerability, even when its doors are locked.”
Johnson, with the help of the ACLU Foundation of Colorado in Colorado, is suing Det. Staab for an unspecified amount of damages, plus coverage of attorney’s fees.
It is unclear if Det. Staab has a lawyer on the case so far. The Denver Police Department did not immediately respond to VICE News’ requests for comment.
Police raids, including those that led to a murder Breonna Taylor In 2020, to Prince Luke Earlier this year, it was criticized across the US, particularly in the past two years. This practice has been a frequent point of contention for critics who say such orders have been used They justify shooting innocent blacks and blacks In their homes, often in the middle of the night.
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