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Colorado Jury Awards 78-Year-Old Woman After Police Raid Her Home Based on a “Find My” iPhone Tip

— March 7, 2024

Attorneys for 78-year-old plaintiff Ruby Johnson said that Denver police officials obtaining a warrant without first informing the court that “Find My” iPhone information isn’t precise enough to determine a device’s exact location.

A Colorado jury has awarded $3.8 million to a 78-year-old woman, who claimed that Denver police officers violated her civil rights when they searched her home based on misleading information obtained through an iPhone application.

According to The Denver Post, a jury found that Denver police Detective Gary Staab and his supervisor, Sgt. Gregory Busch, did not have probable cause or legal justification to execute the January 2022 search of Ruby Johnson’s Montbello-area home.

After deliberation, the jury awarded Johnson about $1.26 million in compensatory damages and $2.5 million in punitive damages.

The Associated Press notes that the Denver Police Department obtained a warrant after another local man reported that his truck had been stolen—inside of which were four semiautomatic handguns, a rifle, a revolver, two drones, thousands of dollars in cash, and an iPhone.

The owner of the vehicle used the “Find My iPhone” application on his iPhone to locate his device, and shared information about his phone’s suspected whereabouts with law enforcement.

Image of a Police Officer
Police Officer; image courtesy of cocoparisienne via Pixabay,

Police arrived outside of Johnson’s home on January 4, 2022.

Johnson, who had just gotten out of the shower, said she did not realize what was happening when she heard officers begin issuing orders over a bullhorn—instructing anyone inside the home to come outside with their hands up. Wearing only a bathroom, Johnson went to her front door to investigate, and found an armored personnel carrier and SWAT team on her lawn.

A “SWAT team ransacked Ms. Johnson’s home of 43 years based on alleged location ping from an iPhone’s ‘Find My’ app that the officers did not understanding and for which they had no training.”

“Ms. Johnson lived alone in her Montbello home and was in her robe, bonnet, and slippers when she was subjected to the terrifying police raid,” said the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, which represented Johnson in the claim. “Donning body armor and automatic weapons, police officers searched Ms. Johnson’s home for stolen items from an incident that she had absolutely nothing to do with.”

Attorneys for Johnson said that police, in obtaining a warrant for Johnson’s residence, failed to inform the issuing court that the “Find My iPhone” application does not provide an individual device’s precise location. And Staab allegedly never verified the truck owner’s claims before filing a request for a warrant.

Johnson said that the raid’s repercussions left her fearful of staying at home alone—and led her to leave the only home she’d had for more than forty years.

“Not only was [Johnson’s] privacy violated and invaluable possessions destroyed, but her sense of safety in her own home was ripped away, forcing her to move from the place where she had set her roots and built community in for 40 years,” said Deborah Richardson, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado.


A woman wins $3.8 million verdict after SWAT team searches wrong home based on Find My iPhone app

Colorado grandmother awarded $3.76M after bungled SWAT raid based on Find My iPhone ping

Jury awards $3.76 million to Denver woman over SWAT raid of her Montbello home

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