ATF And Local Police Invade Wrong House In Colorado

SWAT teams and drug task forces raiding the wrong house isn’t a new story or, unfortunately, even a rare one. Radley Balko has written many stories about these raids and the tragic aftermath. If it isn’t the homeowner getting killed, it is the family dog.

Fortunately for Amanda Griego of Greeley, Colorado neither she nor her son Colby were physically injured when a combined ATF-Greeley PD task force knocked down her front door at 7 am on the morning of June 15, 2010. They were looking for a previous tenant by the name of Angela who had not resided at the location for over a year. Moreover, officers from the Greeley Police Department had been informed she didn’t live there twice preceding the day of the raid.

Ms. Griego filed suit in US District Court for the District of Colorado on Tuesday charging the Greeley Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and the City of Greeley with violating her 4th Amendment rights. The lawsuit names Officer Alan Steinhage and the unnamed officers and agents of the entry team in both individual and official capacities. It would seem that her attorney is trying to pierce the veil of qualified immunity in this case.

Ms. Griego alleges that Defendants violated her and her son’s Fourth Amendment rights when, intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, and with deliberate indifference to her constitutional rights, entered her home without a warrant, without consent, without exigent circumstances, and without any basis for believing they had any legal right to enter the home.

Ms. Griego was not shown any warrant at the time of the raid nor has she ever been shown one since despite her requests to see it according to the complaint.

The reporter in the video above is correct in that “Angela” is still listed in databases at that address. Even though the reporter blacked-out her last name in the video, you can still read it. When I did a search for that name in Greeley, I found three people with that name in three different locations in Greeley. However, given the local police had visited Ms. Griego’s house twice prior to the raid, you would have to think they could have found the correct address.

I think, unfortunately, when all is said and done that Ms. Griego’s suit will be dismissed because the court will accept the officers’ claim of qualified immunity. It won’t be right and her son will continue to have nightmares of that morning in June.

Powerful Video On SWAT Team Excesses

I just saw this video this morning courtesy of Everyday No Days Off blog. It is produced by Reason TV.

In the light of the Jose Guerena murder (and yes, it was murder) by the Pima County Sheriffs Department SWAT Team, the Department of Education SWAT raid on the wrong house in Stockton, California, and all the other wrong house, wrong person, excessive force no-knock raids, this video deserves to be seen by a wider audience. Pass it on to friends, family, and co-workers.

Now We Know Why Dept Of Education Bought Those Shotguns (Updated)

Last spring there was a story going around the blogs concerning a solicitation to buy from the U.S. Department of Education for 27 short barrel shotguns.

Now we know what they planned to do with them. They went to their SWAT Teams for use in collecting student loans. Unfortunately, this isn’t a joke as this story from Stockton, California illustrates. (The Department of Education is now saying it wasn’t about student loans but may have involved fraud or bribery in connection with student loans.)

According to the story from Sacremento’s KXTV News10 ABC, the Department of Education did issue the search warrant and authorized the SWAT team due to defaulted student loans held by Mr. Wright’s estranged wife who no longer lived with him or their children.

According to the Department of Education’s Office of the Inspector General, the case can’t be discussed publicly until it is closed, but a spokesperson did confirm that the department did issue the search warrant at Wright’s home.

The Office of the Inspector General has a law enforcement branch of federal agents that carry out search warrants and investigations.

Stockton Police Department said it was asked by federal agents to provide one officer and one patrol car just for a police presence when carrying out the search warrant.

Stockton police did not participate in breaking Wright’s door, handcuffing him, or searching his home.

H/T WizardPC 

UPDATE: Links to the embedded video on KXTV are down. I’m not sure why but I have sent an email to KXTV’s news desk asking about the reason. This has been a very popular story on both blogs and Twitter today. Could be that their servers are overloaded.

I just updated the story link as KXTV has updated the story on their website.

UPDATE II: The video and story links have been updated to reflect the latest coming from KXTV News10. The Department of Education is still mum on why they thought they needed a SWAT team to execute a search warrant on the wrong guy.

UPDATE III: Here is a link to a redacted search warrant. There are allegations that Mr. Wright’s wife engaged in student loan fraud. Unfortunately, for Mr. Wright and his kids, the confidential informant wasn’t aware that suspect didn’t live there anymore.

Frankly, I don’t see any justification for a SWAT team on a white collar crime where there is no indication of violent actions. I am assuming that the sole reason that the Dept of Ed’s OIG used a SWAT team was to justify having one.