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Spangenberg Shibley & Liber LLP | Aug 1, 2015

SWAT Team's Home Invasion Declared Unconstitutional

Categories: Civil Rights

An eleven-member SWAT team in Illinois broke open the front door, threw two flash-bang grenades inside, searched the house from top to bottom, and then handcuffed the two occupants—a 68-year-old woman and her 18-year-old daughter. The mother and daughter had committed no crime, which the SWAT team (or their police colleagues) would have realized had they done their homework. The mother sued for a violation of her civil rights and, when the trial court refused to toss out the lawsuit, the police officers appealed to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

Judge Richard Posner, the country’s most respected and insightful judge, agreed with the trial court, declaring the home invasion a violation of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: “the police acted unreasonably and precipitately in flash banging the house without a minimally responsible investigation of the threats.”

The frightful experience was captured by body cameras; the video footage can be viewed here. Judge Posner’s lucid opinion can be read here.