Family Says Police Raid Was Wrong and Vile
MINNEAPOLIS (CN) - After breaking down doors and shooting the family dog, a drug task force forced handcuffed children "to sit next to the carcass of their dead and bloody pet for more than an hour," and kept searching even after they knew they were raiding the wrong house, the family claims in Federal Court.
All nine occupants of the home, including three children, sued the officers, the state and Ramsey County in Federal Court.
Defendants include members of the Dakota County Drug Task Force, the St. Paul Police force, and a DEA agent.
Lead plaintiff Roberto Franco claims the task force raided the wrong house: that they should have gone next door.
Franco claims that Task Force Officer Shawn Scovill, who orchestrated the raid, "provided false information to a Minnesota District Court judge in order to obtain a search warrant. Defendant Scovill lied when he informed the District Court judge who reviewed Scovill's search warrant application that Scovill had obtained information from the confidential informant that the plaintiffs' home was the properly targeted house and that the address and the identity of the individuals who resided therein were the plaintiffs."
The complaint adds: The search warrant specifically named Rafael Ybarra as the intended target suspect. Plaintiff Roberto Franco was not named in the search warrant, nor was any person who lived in the raided house named in the search warrant.
"There was never a mention of plaintiff, Roberto Franco, in any documents related to the raid search warrant.
"Plaintiff, Roberto Franco, had never been discussed or considered a suspect by law enforcement, Scovill or any of the defendants directly involved or indirectly involved in the raid, relative to any alleged involvement by Franco in any distribution of contraband prior to the wrong house raid."
Ybarra lived next door, Franco says. He says Ybarra's name, not his, was on the warrant.
But on the night of July 13, 2010, the task force broke down the Francos' doors, "negligently raided the home of plaintiffs, by raiding the wrong home and physically brutalizing all the above-named occupants of said house," the complaint states.
Even after learning that they were in the wrong house, the complaint states, the drug busters stayed in the Francos' home and kept searching it.
They "handcuffed all of the inhabitants of the plaintiffs' home except plaintiff Analese Franco who was forced, virtually naked, from her bed onto the floor at gunpoint by officers of the St. Paul Police Department SWAT team and officers of the St. Paul Police Department."
The complaint states: "Upon forcibly breaching the plaintiffs' home, defendants terrorized the plaintiffs at gun and rifle point.
"Each plaintiff was forced to the floor at gun and rifle point and handcuffed behind their backs.
"Defendants shot and killed the family dog and forced the handcuffed children to sit next to the carcass of their dead pet and bloody pet for more than an hour while defendants continued to search the plaintiffs' home."
One child "was kicked in the side, handcuffed and searched at gunpoint," the family says.
Another child, a girl, "a diabetic, was handcuffed at gunpoint and prevented by officer from obtaining and taking her medication, thus induced a diabetic episode as a result of low-blood sugar levels."
During their illegal search, the officers found a .22 revolver in the basement bedroom of plaintiff Gilbert Castillo. The cops "improperly attributed the possession of said weapon to plaintiff Roberto Franco and arrested him."
"Plaintiff Roberto Franco was wrongfully convicted of the alleged offense and is currently incarcerated with the Minnesota Department of Corrections," the complaint states.
In summary, the complaint states: "Defendants improperly and illegally remained in the home of the plaintiffs searching and seizing items despite the fact that they had learned that they had raided the wrong home.
"Defendant, Shawn Scovill intentionally perjured himself in his sworn testimony on the witness stand at the suppression hearing and at the trial of plaintiff, Roberto Franco.
"Defendant, Shawn Scovill intentionally misrepresented the facts of the criminal case against Roberto Franco in all documents following the arrest of, plaintiff Roberto Franco.
"Defendant Shawn Scovill intentionally misrepresented the facts in the State's criminal against plaintiff Gilbert Castillo when he said that Gilbert Castillo did not state that the confiscated weapon belonged to Gilbert Castillo.
"Defendant Shawn Scovill perjured himself when he testified in the suppression hearing and at the trial of plaintiff Roberto Franco that Scovill had received a text message from the confidential informant which stated the address of the house to be raided was the house address that Scovill had placed on the search warrant.
"Defendants had identified and raided the wrong house."
The parents say the three children suffered traumatic emotional and personal injuries that require therapy.
They demand $10 million for civil rights violations and $20 million in punitive damages.
They are represented by Scott Selmer with Conner, McAlister & Selmer, of Minneapolis.