Imagine that a man’s truck with half a dozen guns inside of it is stolen. The man uses the “Find My Phone” app to locate his phone, which is presumably still in the stolen truck. The app tells him that his phone is somewhere within a 4 block radius of a location, so he drove around the area in a rented car and somehow came to the conclusion that his phone, and presumably his stolen guns and truck, were located in a woman’s garage.
The cop assigned to the case somehow bought into this hunch, secured a warrant, and performed a SWAT raid of the house. The resident of the house, a 77 year old woman, opened her door to an armed and armored SWAT team who handcuffed her and placed her in the back of a patrol car, leaving her in there for hours without food, water, or her medication. The search, which lasted for several hours, didn’t turn up a truck, a cell phone, or any guns. In fact, there was no evidence of any criminal activity found there at all. The entire incident happened in Denver.
The woman has filed a lawsuit against the police (pdf alert), as she rightly should have. A search warrant is only supposed to be issued on “probable cause” that evidence of a crime is located on the property to be searched. The circle drawn by “find my phone” is an approximate location based upon the cell tower that the phone is connected to. In this case, the circle was four blocks wide and covered six different properties. That isn’t an indication that HER house was the one where the phone was. It isn’t even an indication that the phone is located within that circle.
The lawsuit alleges that the detective failed to disclose his inexperience using the “Find My” app, failed to explain how the ‘Find My’ app works, identify what technology it uses to produce its results, or establish that the app was working correctly. Going only on a screenshot from the “Find My” app that pointed to Johnson’s home, the search warrant was approved.
The police damaged the woman’s home by breaking her garage door and climbing atop her new dining room chairs to break holes into her ceiling, they also damaged irreplaceable collectables in the home. The detective then told the elderly woman on the day of the raid that the Denver police would pay nothing to cover any of these damages.
People need to have a belief that the police are not just another criminal street gang. The more I interact with and see how police work, the more I come to believe that we would be better without them. I have only called them a few times, and each time they did nothing more than write a report. It was a waste of time.
I have said before: the police need to clean up their ranks. I don’t think you can, because I believe that the bad cops far outnumber the good ones. The police have become just another group of criminals who prey on the people in this nation who actually produce wealth. They are a street gang with badges and qualified immunity.