Thursday, May 31, 2012

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.


  1. The concept of qualified immunity is one of the greatest insults to the bill of rights. Created out of whole cloth by the judiciary to protect their buddies sorry asses.

  2. I agree wholly with PT. We need to start working on some reassignment of the protection offered by Qualified Immunity!

  3. Actually I don't think qualified immunity will totally work because there was a stated lack of a warrant, second there is actual record of her informing the police numerous times within the prior year the individual did not live there.

    That is negligence on the officers part.

    Without a warrant, qualified immunity can NOT come into play. The search and entry was illegal, period. Any judge with his salt will hold them to the irons for not getting a warrant. That right there confines them to almost certain doom barring a tyrant of a judge.

  4. The problem is too many judges not worth their salt. They view themselves as on the side of police rather than protecting citizens from unlawful use of police power.

  5. The judge may give the usual rubber stamp of qualified immunity, but the officers in question didn't perform the appropriate supplication and forelock tugging to satisfy the judge's massive, fragile ego in requesting a warrant.