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Mistake Leads to $3.76 Million Settlement for Grandmother

TL;DR: Ruby Johnson, a 78-year-old grandmother, was awarded $3.76 million after Denver police, relying on Apple’s “Find My” app, mistakenly raided her home. The incident has sparked discussions on the use of technology in law enforcement and the need for policy changes to prevent similar errors.

In Denver, a grandmother’s quiet life turned upside down when police, led astray by a phone tracking app, mistakenly raided her home. This error led to a $3.76 million jury award for the damages and distress caused.

Ruby Johnson, 78, found herself in a nightmare when Denver police, acting on faulty data from Apple’s “Find My” app, targeted her house while searching for stolen items. The officers, looking for a truck and firearms, left Johnson’s home in disarray and the grandmother in a state of “severe physical and emotional distress.”

This incident is not isolated, recalling the tragic wrong-house raid that took Breonna Taylor’s life in 2020, prompting nationwide calls for more careful execution of search warrants.

Despite the jury’s decision, finding the involved officers liable for violating Johnson’s rights, Denver police have not found any policy breaches, nor have they updated their procedures following the incident.

Johnson’s experience has sparked a debate over the reliance on digital tools in law enforcement, with the ACLU of Colorado stepping in to support her case. Critics argue that the police’s use of the “Find My” app, which led to this drastic mistake, shows a lack of understanding and training.

The saga began over a stolen truck, reported with a cache of guns and an old iPhone inside. The “Find My” app, designed for locating Apple devices, inaccurately led police to Johnson’s doorstep.

Despite the app’s limitations and the broad area it suggested for the phone’s location, officers proceeded with the raid, causing significant property damage and emotional turmoil for Johnson.

The Denver jury’s award to Johnson includes compensatory and punitive damages, highlighting the severe impact of the raid. Yet, despite the payout, Denver police have not introduced any policy changes, leaving open the question of how to prevent similar errors in the future.

This case underlines the tension between using modern technology in policing and ensuring the protection of citizens’ rights and well-being. As Johnson struggles with the aftermath, including health issues linked to the stress of the raid, the conversation about police accountability and technological reliability continues.


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