Colorado woman sues Denver police officer over SWAT raid of her home

by Adelaida Weisz
Published: January 21, 2023 (2 weeks ago)

This is the shocking moment a SWAT team broke into the home of a 77-year-old grandmother after the ‘Find My’ app mistakenly showed a stolen iPhone 11 was there.

Bodycam footage captured officers smashing down Ruby Johnson’s door before raiding the house in Denver in search for the missing phone.

The distressing video showed the ex-USPS worker wearing a bonnet, slippers and a gown next to a squad car and surrounded by cops wearing tactical gear.

But it later emerged the detective leading the case had acted off a report from the ‘Find My’ app to track the missing mobile, which turned out to be wrong.

It comes as Johnson filed a lawsuit for unspecified damages against Denver Police Department following the terrifying raid.

She claims they used a ‘hastily prepared, bare-bones, misleading affidavit’ to obtain the warrant for her house that has left her suffering anxiety.

Ruby Johnson, 77, was ordered to come out of her home in January as police were searching for stolen items pinged near her home

Ruby Johnson, 77, was ordered to come out of her home in January as police were searching for stolen items pinged near her home

Ruby Johnson, 77, was ordered to come out of her home in January as police were searching for stolen items pinged near her home 

This photo shows on the doors that was battered down by police on the woman's property

This photo shows on the doors that was battered down by police on the woman's property

This photo shows on the doors that was battered down by police on the woman’s property

The blue circle around the dropped pin shows that the phone was not actually located at the woman's address, but in the proximity of the location

The blue circle around the dropped pin shows that the phone was not actually located at the woman's address, but in the proximity of the location

The blue circle around the dropped pin shows that the phone was not actually located at the woman’s address, but in the proximity of the location 

The clip, dated January 4, starts as Johnson is ordered out of her home by the eight-strong team of SWAT officers using a megaphone.

‘If anyone is inside… this is Denver Police Department with a search warrant, can you come to the door with your hands up,’ an officer can be heard.

Wearing just a robe, bonnet and slippers, she obeyed before being lined up by the agents outside the armored squad car and questioned.

She was asked if anyone else was in the home or if she had ‘anything on her she’s not supposed to’.

She tells them she does not and she was alone before they move her to the back of a patrol car to wait while they search through her home.

Officers broke down her door and raided the house in search of stolen guns, the iPhone 11 and $4,000 in cash.

They are seen moving through the property, cutting the lock off a shed in the backyard and battering down a door in search for the stolen items.

The officers also ask the woman if she has any grandchildren who may have visited her recently.

A legal complaint filed on behalf of Johnson by the ACLU of Colorado alleged Denver Police Detective Gary Staab used a ‘hastily prepared, bare-bones, misleading affidavit’ to obtain a warrant.

Johnson is seeking a jury trial and unspecified damages. She is suing the detective in an ‘individual capacity,’ according to the filing.

The woman’s legal team alleges the police violated her right to ‘free of unreasonable searches and seizures’ and that the affidavit the Denver police had ‘lacked probable cause that evidence of crime could be found.’

The lawsuit states the alleged misreading of the pinged location has caused the elderly woman trauma that can never be undone.

Police had the elderly woman sit outside in a police car while they searched her property for the contraband, including a stolen iPhone, guns, and $4,000 in cash

Police had the elderly woman sit outside in a police car while they searched her property for the contraband, including a stolen iPhone, guns, and $4,000 in cash

Police had the elderly woman sit outside in a police car while they searched her property for the contraband, including a stolen iPhone, guns, and $4,000 in cash 

Johnson was forced to sit in the back of a patrol car while officials raided her home

Johnson was forced to sit in the back of a patrol car while officials raided her home

Johnson was forced to sit in the back of a patrol car while officials raided her home 

The officers, led by Detective Gary Staab, had obtained a search warrant after using the pinged iPhone location to show the phone was in the home, despite the inaccurate reading

The officers, led by Detective Gary Staab, had obtained a search warrant after using the pinged iPhone location to show the phone was in the home, despite the inaccurate reading

The officers, led by Detective Gary Staab, had obtained a search warrant after using the pinged iPhone location to show the phone was in the home, despite the inaccurate reading

Staab and the iPhone’s owner reportedly read the ping, shown by a blue down surrounded by a circle, as a precise location.

But the presence of the blue circle signifies that the Apple product is in a certain vicinity.

‘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,’ lawyers for Johnson wrote.

‘The size of the blue circle shows how precisely the device’s location can be determined. For example, the larger the circle; the greater the inaccuracy,’ the filing reads.

Johnson and her legal team believe Staab was able to obtain the search warrant after speaking with the owner of the stolen items, Jeremy McDaniel, who told him he had used the Find My app revealed Johnson’s home to be where his items were. 

In actuality, a screenshot from the app later showed a pinged proximity.

‘This blue circle covered an area spanning at least six different properties and parts of four different blocks in the vicinity of [redacted] Street,’ the ACLU said.

‘The screenshot offered no basis to believe McDaniel’s iPhone was likely to be inside Ms. Johnson’s house, rather than on any of several neighbors’ properties or discarded on a nearby street by a passing driver,’ the lawsuit said.

Additionally, Staab allegedly insisted the items were inside Johnson’s home, even without the precise location, the filing alleges.

Johnson ' experiences anxiety living alone in her home and is afraid to answer the door,' the suit says

Johnson ' experiences anxiety living alone in her home and is afraid to answer the door,' the suit says

Johnson ‘ experiences anxiety living alone in her home and is afraid to answer the door,’ the suit says 

'She's still hurting. She still doesn't understand why this happened to her. And after everything, she still hasn't gotten as much as an apology from the police,' said Johnson's son

'She's still hurting. She still doesn't understand why this happened to her. And after everything, she still hasn't gotten as much as an apology from the police,' said Johnson's son

‘She’s still hurting. She still doesn’t understand why this happened to her. And after everything, she still hasn’t gotten as much as an apology from the police,’ said Johnson’s son

The footage then shows the officers moving about her home and even cutting the lock off a shed in the backyard

The footage then shows the officers moving about her home and even cutting the lock off a shed in the backyard

The footage then shows the officers moving about her home and even cutting the lock off a shed in the backyard

Lawyers also say the detective and his team did not work to independently verify that the items were inside, relying on solely the information from the Find My ping.

‘On the authority of the illegally issued warrant, Denver police arrived at 77-year-old Ms. Johnson’s home, where she lives alone, with an overwhelming and intimidating show of unnecessary force,’ the ACLU said.

Now, the 77-year-old has been left traumatized by the incident, nearly a year after it occurred.

‘Both Ms. Johnson and her home of 40 years carry wounds from that day that have not healed.

‘Johnson no longer feels safe in her own home. She developed health issues due to the extreme stress and anxiety the unlawful search caused her.’

She also ‘could not bear to remain in her house’ after and had to briefly move in with her daughter before staying with her son in Texas for months.

Lawyers say she has since moved back to her Colorado home but is considering a permanent move.

Johnson ‘experiences anxiety living alone in her home and is afraid to answer the door,’ the suit says.

The woman's legal team alleges the police violated her right to 'free of unreasonable searches and seizures' and that the affidavit the Denver police had 'lacked probable cause that evidence of crime could be found

The woman's legal team alleges the police violated her right to 'free of unreasonable searches and seizures' and that the affidavit the Denver police had 'lacked probable cause that evidence of crime could be found

The woman’s legal team alleges the police violated her right to ‘free of unreasonable searches and seizures’ and that the affidavit the Denver police had ‘lacked probable cause that evidence of crime could be found

This is the warrant police were given to search Johnson's home

This is the warrant police were given to search Johnson's home

This is the warrant police were given to search Johnson’s home

‘We cherish Mom. It’s painful to witness how this violation has affected her,’ said Ms. Johnson’s son Greg Brunson in a .

‘She’s still hurting. She still doesn’t understand why this happened to her. And after everything, she still hasn’t gotten as much as an apology from the police.’

‘For what we think is the egregiousness of the rights violation, to inspire Denver to take a very serious hard look at how its detectives are seeking warrants,’ ACLU of Colorado Legal Director Mark Silverstein told At this time, Staab is the only defendant named in the lawsuit, but more could be added.

DailyMail.com reached out to Johnson’s lawyers for comment but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

Denver Police Department said: ‘The Department of Public Safety and Denver Police Department (DPD) sincerely apologize to Ms. Johnson for any negative impacts this situation may have had on her.

‘SWAT was involved in the execution of the warrant due to allegations that six guns had been stolen and may have been located in Ms. Johnson’s home.

‘Once Denver Police Chief Ron Thomas was made aware of concerns expressed by Ms. Johnson’s family regarding the warrant, the Department reached out to the family.

‘We hope to continue to work with Ms. Johnson’s family through her attorneys to resolve this matter without further litigation.

‘Chief Thomas has also ordered that an internal investigation be opened and DPD is working with the Denver District Attorney’s office to develop additional training for officers and assistant district attorneys related to seeking warrants based upon ‘find my phone’ applications.’

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