In January, Colorado police officers confined a 77-year-old grandmother named Ruby Johnson for hours in a squad car without even giving her a glass of water during a time when she was due to take her daily medication.
There was no one to tell Johnson what was happening when she opened her door. She found out that her home was located within a blue circle drawn by a "Find My" app and that her truck had been reported stolen. According to her legal team, the application for a search warrant that was used to conduct what she believes was an illegal search of her home was either deliberately or recklessly deficient. The retired US Postal Service worker had to endure an unreasonable search and seizure because of the allegedly improper raid.
The home that Ms. Johnson has lived in for 40 years has been destroyed by the illegal search.
Police raided Johnson's home after being tipped off by a truck theft victim who had used his "Find My" app to locate his stolen vehicle.Advertisement
Renting a car, the victim drove around Johnson's neighborhood, patrolling a four-block area on a map. The victim decided if his truck was in this area, it was in Johnson's garage. The Denver Police Department officer assigned to follow up on the stolen truck, Gary Staab, then seemingly adopted the victim's hunch as hard evidence, filing an affidavit requesting a search warrant that directly connected Johnson's address with the victim's reported "Find My" app evidence
According to a complaint that Johnson filed last week, Staab secured a search warrant within a few hours and ordered a team to search Johnson's home. Johnson's legal team wrote in the complaint that Staab should have known that there was no valid connection between Johnson's home and the truck theft.
If Staab had taken the time when he was requesting the search warrant to explain to those reviewing the request precisely how the "Find My" app works, Johnson's complaint said, he would have learned. The blue circle covered an area that spanned at least six different properties and parts of four different blocks.
Staab might not have realized his mistake in his haste to get a search warrant. Staab was accused of failing to disclose his inexperience in his affidavit. He failed to explain how the 'Find My' app works, identify what technology it uses to produce its results, or prove that the app was working correctly. The judge or anyone else who approved the search warrant didn't have all the facts needed to determine the credibility and reliability of the 'Find My' app. According to the complaint, the search warrant was approved only after Staab reported that the "Find My" app screenshot pointed to Johnson's home.Advertisement
Mark Silverstein, the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, said in a press release that Staab had no grounds to ask for a search warrant. The judge should have rejected it, the district attorney should not have green-lighted it, and the team should not have gone.
Johnson is still recovering from the raid. Police damaged Johnson's home, breaking her garage door and climbing atop her dining room chairs to break holes into her ceiling, as well as snapping the head off a figurine from her youngest son. On the day of the raid, Staab is said to have told Johnson that the DPD wouldn't pay any of the damages. The son of Johnson said in the release that it was painful to see how the raid had affected his mother.
According to her attorneys, Johnson has experienced a decline in health and emotional duress since the raid, and she has considered abandoning the home where she raised her three kids. She is scared to open her door.
The woman is still hurting. She doesn't know why this happened to her. She didn't get as much as an apology from the police.