Criminal Justice

Michigan Cops Raided a Home, Damaged the House, and Held a Family at Gunpoint. It Was the Wrong Address.

Accountability is unlikely.


Michigan State Police (MSP) and a local SWAT team in April executed a raid on a home in Flint, Michigan, battering down the door and holding the family at gunpoint while they went through their things.

A confidential informant gave the cops the address—for the wrong house.

This month, attorneys for Renee Dunigan, 56, Michelle Colston, 28, and Colston's three minor children requested a federal civil rights investigation into the raid that saw scores of officers forcibly enter their home apparently without the proper vetting.

The cops "smashed in their front door without any notice while effectuating a 'no-knock' warrant," reads a letter from William H. Goodman, Julie H. Hurwitz, and Teresa Bingman, the family's lawyers, addressed to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pamela Karlan. "They rousted the family at gunpoint, literally from shower, sleep, and bed, and forced them to sit together for one hour—in Michelle's case unclothed, having just stepped out of the shower—while approximately 50 officers tore the house apart." The offices of Goodman Hurwitz & James P.C. did not respond to request for comment.

Police set the raid in motion after speaking with their source, who told them that a car parked in the Dunigan-Colston driveway belonged to the family. That same driveway was shared with a neighbor, though law enforcement didn't verify who actually owned the vehicle before seeking the warrant and executing the raid.

"It appears the police did no pre-raid investigation regarding the Dunigan/Colston home prior to smashing in their front door and never even bothered to confirm the name and registration for the car in question," notes the letter. "The family has also learned that the [informant] provided this information to protect the neighboring house."

"They're clearly still having nightmares, still having problems sleeping, still struggling with seeing police," Aaron Dunigan, Renee's son, told the local NBC affiliate. "My three year old nephew sees police and asks, 'are they going to our house?" he said.

The Michigan family joins an unfortunately long list of people who have been victimized by wrong-door, no-knock raids, where police employed the high-stakes tactic without ensuring basic details were in order, like correct names and addresses.

In 2019, a wrong-door raid on a Chicago woman's home—who was handcuffed, naked—sparked nearly 100 misconduct allegations in one evening. (It was based on a so-called John Doe warrant, an authorization grounded in confidential, anonymous sources.) Over the last few years, 10 similar lawsuits have been filed in Chicago alone. A few choice examples: Also in 2019, police bust into an innocent family's house on a John Doe warrant and handcuffed an 8-year-old; during another instance, 17 cops targeted the wrong residence and interrupted a 4-year-old's birthday get-together with guns drawn.

Consider too the case of Onree Norris, who was sitting in his Georgia home when more than two dozen cops set off flash-bang grenades and barged into his house when they meant to raid the place next door. They originally had the correct address, but diverted to Norris' home when they showed up on the scene and thought the target residence looked different than expected. Without delay, they turned their attention next door. They had it right the first time.

Most fraught is that all of the officers in that case were awarded qualified immunity, the legal doctrine that bars victims of government malfeasance from bringing lawsuits against state actors if the way in which their constitutional rights were violated hasn't been meticulously outlined somewhere in a prior court precedent.

Two cops who allegedly stole $225,000 while executing a search warrant, for example, were protected by qualified immunity, because no court ruling said that theft under such circumstances is unconstitutional. So, too, were the four cops who beat a man during a routine traffic stop, the two cops who assaulted and filed bogus charges against a man for standing outside of his own house, and the cop who debased a man's car during a drug search that he initiated with fabricated information.

Put differently, a federal court told Norris last month that he will not be able to sue the cops who threw explosives in his house without doing the most basic homework.

Aaron Dunigan says his family wants compensation. Understandably. Yet should they decide to seek it, it's not unlikely that they'll meet the same fate as Norris.

NEXT: National Security Agency Leaker Reality Winner Freed from Prison Early

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  1. Don’t want to get swatted like a thug, don’t live in Flint like a thug.

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    1. Don’t want to be eaten by Michael Moore, don’t live in Flint.

      1. Moore is so hated up here, Northern Michigan, that he had to sell his mansion on Torch Lake.
        Fat slob.

    2. Why do you judge people by where they live?

      1. Lol. Weren’t you just fanatically stalking some guy in another thread telling him he must have lived in the rural part of Portland?

    3. Flint’s one of those great cities where government provides everything we need like law enforcement, jobs and water.

    4. Most state salaries are based on a monthly-compensation rate, by job classification, although some temporary positions are based on hourly rates……………..PART TIME JOB

    5. Here are 7 at-home jobs that pay at least $100/day. And there’s quite the variety too! Some of these work-at-home jobs are more specialized, others are jobs that anyone can do.HJQ They all pay at least $3000/month, but some pay as much as $10,000.

    6. New employees are usually hired between the minimum and midpoint salary rate for the job classification…………….PART TIME JOB

    7. You’re right. Everybody is guilty until proven innocent, especially if living in Flint, MI.

    8. And yet if they moved to your neighborhood, the 4 Sale sign would be up on your house before their moving truck left your block.

  2. Well, at least now we know for sure why they don’t allow us to have fun ‘arms’ like landmines.
    Come the revolution, we’re gonna have a special court just for “confidential” and/or “anonymous” sources.

  3. Ruh roh, democrats!

    1. Democrats are the ones who want to pass bills to block this type of stuff and it is the Rs who block those bills.

      1. You keep saying that but never have a reply to the states and cities that block these bills despite having complete D control. Are there a couple of misguided Rs blocking these bills? Yeah. But your claim that the obstruction is one-sided is simply wrong.

        1. I am talking about the federal Democrats. Local politics has different priorities and sometimes the parties don’t alight with national on issues.

          1. Flint is a democrat controlled city. It’s the subject of this article.

            1. Yeah but shreek is a retarded pedophile who can’t read and welches on his bets.

          2. I am talking about the federal Democrats.

            The federal Democrats with full control of all 3 branches of the federal government? Fucking hell shreek.

      2. Oh honey, its so sad to see you keep doing this to yourself.

        Flint, Michigan is a dark blue town. Its the place Michael Moore lived in before he got rich and moved to someplace that wasn’t a shithole – but still pretends to live in.

        Its got a blue government in a blue state government in a country where the democrats control the Senate.

        But somehow they just can’t get anything done because of those big meany Republicans!!11!! Even though there are no reform bills on the docket. At all.

        Oh, and Flint was the town that was at the center of the state’s complete fuck up of their water supply. You know, that democratic government taking control of the municipal water supply to hand the upgrade contract to cronies?

      3. Most cities are run by dems and have control of the local police departments. So stop the nonsense about republicans being the problem. Dems have had control of city’s for decades and they are cesspools.

        1. I’d say cesspool would only begin to describe democrat run cities.
          L.A. is lost it Lost Angeles! LOL!
          Forget Venice Beach area.
          Half of all fires are from homeless encampments.
          Consider other dem run paradises such as Portland, Seattle, San Fran and oh yes, Minneapolis, otherwise known as little Mogadishu.
          Don’t forget Chicago, another dem run city. Or St. Louis and East St.Louis, which by the way has a murder rate of 160 per 100,000.
          Yup. The Democrats sure know how to run a city .

        2. Qualified immunity is a Federal precept established by the US Supreme Court in 1967. Flint has no say in the matter. Duh, dumbass.

      4. And yet the city of Flint has had democrat Mayors and city councils back to 1974 when the most recent city charter was approved.

      5. Molly, you must have arrived to this planet quite recently. Hopefully, you come in peace. BOTH parties want to have political police. Qualified immunity is the root cause of this. The people harassed by the police cannot sue officers who perpetrated the crime, they can only sue the police department. The cops are free to repeat this BS at another address.

  4. I hope that family was cited for making cops raid the wrong address.

  5. The problem isn’t that cops get the wrong address. Mistakes will be made and they are only human. The problem is the no-knock raids. Try knocking on the door during daylight hours and give people a chance to answer the door. If you’ve got a warrant then breaking down the door after 10-15 minutes isn’t out the question, but there’s no reason to go Die Hard on a private home because the door doesn’t get answered in 30 seconds at 2am.

    1. Getting the wrong address, doing zero research on the house or occupants, and believing an informant without question are all massive problems also.

      1. yippee ki yay motherfucker

      2. Now tell us about how unarmed white women deserve to be shot in the face by black cops for trespassing you pedophile piece of shit.

      3. All problems that become non-problems as soon as you remove the cowboy action movie element of serving a warrant. The cops knock on the door, it gets answered, and in five minutes they realize they have the wrong house and leave. Yes, cops should do their homework, but the most important principle of acting safely (in all things) is to fail to a safe state so that if you screw up (because humans will) no harm is done.

    2. The problem isn’t that cops get the wrong address.

      No, that’s a problem too.

      1. Flint police department doesn’t have enough money for Google Maps?

    3. What’s the fun in that?

  6. “Knock? We don’t need no stinkin’ knocks?”

    1. That’s the spirit! Houston cops, unlike limpwrist Michiganders, barge right in with assault rifles blazing and kill everyone in sight on the off chance there might be felony hemp twigs and seeds on the premises.

  7. Just more collateral damage in the War on Drugs.

    Thanks, Joe.

  8. The government encourages us to snitch on each other and from what I can see, we’re happy to comply.

    1. “There is one thing in the world more wicked than the desire to command, and that is the will to obey.” ~ William Kingdon Clifford

  9. This confidential informant use is crap. Basically I can just say that I purchased drugs from whomever and armed costumed terrorists will violently bust into said persons home in the middle of the night. Such bull lazy asses get off your ass and investigate unfortunately they don’t know how.

  10. That is all you need to know about why police revert back to what comes naturally for those who shouldn’t be allowed to remain on the force.

  11. As long as qualified immunity exists there will be no way to put an end to this.
    The problem is that when the aggrieved victim of such a raid finally sues for at least some damages, it comes out of the taxpayers pockets not the police department.
    At least in some cases of wrongful death, some cops are actually being tried for murder.
    As it should be.

    1. Putting an end to QI is a necessary, but insufficient, to putting an end to this kind of shit.

      1. The next step after ending QI is bonding for cops with their fat, early, and fixed benefit pensions must be a part of their bond.

        When young thug cops see old pension-less thug cops subsisting on cat food in fleabag weekly motels, they will reconsider either being thugs or being cops.

  12. Billy Binion and Jacob Sullum make plenty of headlines and money by raging over law enforcement mistakes. Here’s a better headline, 791,035 POLICE EVENTS OCCURED TODAY – TWO WERE EMBARRASING ERRORS. These Reason columnists are the reason police need qualified immunity. They would file on a cop just to get their rocks off.

  13. These wrong address raids are one of the starkest examples of why cops are the greatest risk of violence to ordinary middle class and up Americans. People like us that live decently in the various connotations of the phrase are at near zero risk of actual violence from ordinary criminals (property crime, maybe), they tend to prey mainly on their own in some respect. We and our loved ones are always, though, one wrong address or minor driving negligence from being the helpless victims of cops and violence under the color of law.

    Here’s yet another and more tragic case:

    “Cops Ignore Warning, Enter Locked Gate in Wrong Yard, Shoot Family Dog TWICE in Front of 8yo Girl”

    “‘They knew they were at the wrong house and our next–door neighbors told deputies that Princess was in the yard, but they came on our property anyway,’ explained Leticia.

    “I’m yelling at the cop, ‘Don’t go in there, there’s a dog, don’t go in there!” the Perez’s neighbor, Mona Foster recalled to reporters. But police didn’t listen.

    As police entered the yard — unlawfully — Leticia says her 8-year-old daughter was in the backyard feeding their dog Princess ‘when a deputy with a shotgun shot Princess twice, hitting her in the mouth and shoulder.'”


    “Authority has always attracted the lowest elements in the human race. All through history, mankind has been bullied by scum.” ~ P.J. O’Rourke

  14. Who cares? Cops are people, people make mistakes. Doesn’t mean they owe anyone millions of dollars. All of us would quit our jobs immediately if the remedy for a mistake was a lawsuit and the front page of the paper.

    1. “All of us would quit our jobs immediately if the remedy for a mistake was a lawsuit…”

      This statement is patently ridiculous; and intentionally ignores, that all of us in the private sector, are subject to precisely this level of liability if we make mistakes that harm others. Many are, even, held to the much higher standard of a sort of prior liability, where bonds and insurance are prerequisite to employment or business. Only those in government, most especially cops, escape any accountability for their frequent and atrocious “mistakes” and mistakes via immunity from QI and indemnity via their unions.

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