NAMPA, Idaho (CN) — A woman says Caldwell, Idaho, police shot up and tear-gassed her house for 10 hours though she gave them the key to it and the only one home was her dog — and she wants them to pay for it.
“Basically, they had a standoff with a dog,” her attorney said in an interview.
Shaniz West returned home on Aug. 11, 2014 after registering her child for first grade, to find Caldwell police officers swarming her house. West, who was six months pregnant, lived in the house with her two children, ages 6 and 8 months.
Caldwell, pop. 50,000, is 26 miles west of Boise.
West’s ex-boyfriend Fabian Salinas, a wanted felon, had been at her home that day to retrieve his belongings, she says in the Aug. 9 complaint in Federal Court. She’d told him to pick up the boxed items and leave before she returned.
While she was gone, a Caldwell police SWAT team arrived. Unsure whether Salinas was still inside, West, who was on foot, gave police a key to the front door.
She says they never used it.
They brought up an armored vehicle and spent the next 10 hours bombarding the house with tear gas.
“During the course of the standoff Caldwell police officers broke numerous windows to gain entry, crashed through ceilings while they were maneuvering through the home, and punctured holes in the house by shooting canisters of tear gas that released noxious chemicals into the home,” she says.
During the nightmare, she says, her “pet dog Blue was the only occupant of the home.”
“When Ms. West was allowed to re-enter the home, she found the house destroyed. Her and her children’s personal belongings were saturated with tear gas and littered with debris from the walls and ceiling, and broken glass from the windows.
“Ms. West, who was 6 months pregnant at the time, was left to clean up the wreckage by herself and it was two months before Ms. West and her children could occupy their home.”
She says the police did not have her consent to do anything but enter her house through the front door.
West’s attorney, Vaughn Fisher in Boise, told Courthouse News that police had a warrant for Salinas, who was wanted for assaulting a police officer and other crimes, but no search warrant for the house.
He said he has no idea why it took police 10 hours to discover that Salinas was not inside.
“I have no idea,” he said. “I’ve read the police reports and debriefing, and it’s my recollection that someone heard a deadbolt activate, which was impossible, and saw the curtains move, which is possible because there was a pit bull in the house at the time. Basically, they had a standoff with a dog.”
Fisher said some of the damage to the house was caused when an officer slipped off a truss while crawling in the attic and fell through the ceiling.
He said the city made an offer to replace West’s belongings, but it wasn’t enough.
“Practically the entire contents of the house were destroyed, and they didn’t treat her very well,” the attorney said. “They made a very paltry offer to replace some of it. It was grossly inadequate.”
Police Capt. Devin Riley, a defendant and the Caldwell Police spokesman, was out of the office Wednesday and unavailable for comment.
West seeks punitive damages from the City of Caldwell, the Caldwell Police Department, former Police Chief Chris Allgood, police Lt. Devin Riley (now a captain) and Sergeant and SWAT team leader Doug Winfield.
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