Warrantless Raid on the Wrong People Costs Denver Cops $1.8 Million
On January 27, 2009, Denver cops pounded on the door of a home that used to be a drug den and brothel. Not having kept their information current, the cops didn't know the house was now occupied by Daniel Martinez Jr. (pictured) and his family. They also "had no warrant, no application for a warrant, nothing," as the family's attorney later described the scene. The officers rushed inside and roughed up the residents, including shoving a 16-year-old boy's head through a window and and dealing out a generous dollop of beatings and bodyslamming.
Then they realized they'd fucked up. So they trumped up charges against the family.
Fortunately, a jury saw through the cops' bullshit and found Nathan Martinez and Daniel Martinez III not guilty of misdemeanor assault charges. Subsequently, the district attorney saw the light and abandoned the case against Daniel Martinez Jr. and Jonathan Martinez.
Now the Martinez family is getting some payback after suing the cops and their employers.
From Kirk Mitchell at The Denver Post:
A Denver jury on Friday awarded $1.8 million to a family after a wrongful prosecution case in which police officers executed a warrantless raid on a home previously occupied by drug dealers and prostitutes.
The lawsuit was filed in 2011 against the city and county of Denver and four police officers. Claims against the city later were dropped in a summary judgment.
A jury of 10 awarded various amounts to the four family members based on different amounts of damages attributed to the four officers. The jury awarded a total of $1.25 million of punitive damages collectively to the family.
The family also alleged excessive force, but the jury in the lawsuit couldn't come to a decision on that allegation. The ultimate payout, if it survives the officers' promised appeals, could add up to $3 million including interest and attorney's fee.