Detective sues SWAT raid based on false location in Find My app

Ruby Johnson was watching television in a bathrobe, bonnet and slippers, according to court documents, when a SWAT team arrived in front of her home in January and asked over a loudspeaker for anyone in the house to come out with their hands up.

Ms. SWAT team and Denver police officers in an armored vehicle with a German Shepherd. They came to Johnson’s house. Officers, some in tactical armor with rifles, Ms. They used a battering ram on the rear garage door of Johnson’s home and caused damage inside the home, court records state.

Mrs Johnson, 77, waited in a police vehicle while officers searched for the stolen items. After several hours, the police dispersed. Their search was fruitless.

In a lawsuit filed last week, retired US Postal Service employee Ms. Johnson says a detective named Gary Staub sought the warrant based on false information from the Find My app. A mobile application that helps locate missing or lost Apple products, such as iPhones, iPads and MacBooks, led her to believe the stolen items were inside her home, the suit says.

Ruby Johnson was watching TV in a bathrobe, bonnet and slippers when a SWAT team pulled up in front of her house.debt…KUSA-NBC 9 News

Mark Silverstein, Ms. Johnson’s lawyer and legal director of the ACLU of Colorado, said Monday that Detective Stapp, the only defendant named in the suit, should not have applied for the warrant.

“The detective did not have the necessary facts to justify the search,” said Mr. Silverstein said. “His supervisor should have vetoed it. The district attorney shouldn’t have given the green light. The judge shouldn’t have approved it, and the SWAT team should have stayed at the house.

The Denver Police Department said in a statement Monday that it has launched an internal investigation and is working with the Denver District Attorney’s Office to develop training for officers on warrants based on apps like Find My.

“The Department of Public Safety and the Denver Police Department apologize for the negative impact this situation may have had on Ms. Johnson,” the department said, and hopes to “resolve the matter” without litigation.

Detective Stopp, who is still with the police department, did not respond to a request for comment Monday. It is not known if he has a lawyer.

He was assigned on Jan. 4 to investigate a truck that had been stolen the previous day, according to court documents. Inside the truck were four semi-automatic handguns, a tactical military-style rifle, a revolver, two drones, $4,000 in cash and an iPhone 11, records state.

The detective interviewed the truck’s owner, Jeremy McDaniel, who said he had used the Find My app the day before to look for the iPhone, and it placed the lost phone at an address, according to court documents.

Mr., who could not be reached on Monday. McDaniel told the detective Stabb had rented a car to drive by the address but had not seen his truck. Mr. McDaniel told the detective that his truck may have been in the home’s garage.

The Find My app was created to help Apple product owners find the “approximate location” of a lost item. Legal Terms of Use. The tool relies on a combination of cellular, Wi-Fi and GPS networks and Bluetooth data to estimate the location of a lost item for users.

The approximate location can be specific enough to identify a single house or broad enough to include multiple buildings if the item cannot be pinpointed. In reviews of the app, many users have reported success in finding lost items, while others have said the app is buggy.

Apple, the developers of the Find My app, did not respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit on Monday.

In this case Mr. It includes a screenshot of the Find My app that links McDaniel’s phone to one house, but the radius includes parts of other houses and two streets that span sections of four blocks.

“The screenshot shows no evidence to believe that McDaniel’s iPhone could have been inside Ms. Johnson’s home, but rather could have been on the property of several neighbors or dumped on a nearby street by a passing driver,” the suit said.

On January 4 Mr. About three hours after interviewing McDaniel, Detective Staub obtained a search warrant, and Denver police and SWAT officers quickly found Ms. They landed on Johnson’s lawn.

After the test, “Mrs. “Johnson couldn’t bear to stay at her house,” so he lived nearby for a week with his daughter, then spent several months at his son’s house in Houston.

Mrs. Johnson later returned to his home, but the lawsuit states that he is “discussing moving because he experiences anxiety living alone in his home and is afraid to open the door.”

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