Grandmother Gets $3.7M Over False Find My iPhone Raid

(BBC) – A jury has awarded a Denver grandmother $3.76m (£2.9m) after her home was raided by police based on what turned out to be a false Find My iPhone ping to trace stolen goods.

Ruby Johnson, 78, was made to leave her home and wait in the police car while she was dressed in only a bathrobe.

The jury found the raid on 4 January 2022 was without “probable cause” and violated her constitutional rights.

She was given $1.26m in compensatory damages and $2.5m in punitive damages.

Denver police had issued a search warrant the day after a truck was allegedly stolen from the parking garage of hotel.

The vehicle’s owner, who was staying at the hotel, told police that the truck contained six firearms — including a tactical military-style rifle — two drones, $4,000 cash and an old iPhone 11, according to NBC News.

He also told officials he had used the Find My iPhone app to locate the phone near Ms Johnson’s residence.

A Denver detective and sergeant used the locator to obtain a search warrant, which was approved by Denver’s District Attorney’s Office.

Dressed in Swat gear and carrying weapons, the officers executed the search warrant at Ms Johnson’s home. They found nothing, but in the process, smashed her garage door with a battering ram, broke a collectible doll and wrecked her home, she said.

The BBC has contacted the Denver Police Department for comment.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, which brought the suit on Ms Johnson’s behalf, called the $3.7m compensation “a small step toward justice”.

Ms Johnson “and her home” still “carry wounds from that day that have not healed”, the ACLU said, adding that the grandmother had moved and had developed health issues from the trauma of the incident.

“[I]t is a critical case under our state’s Constitution, for the first time affirming that police can be held accountable for invading someone’s home without probable cause,” said the organisation’s legal director, Tim Macdonald.
Colorado Constitution requires that search warrants be supported by a written affidavit and adequate probable cause before police can raid someone’s home, he added.