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Sunday, June 16, 2024 | Back issues
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Police Scared Her to Death, Says Woman, 74

SACRAMENTO (CN) - Backed by a "paramilitary type of armored vehicle," a Manteca police SWAT team smashed in a 74-year-old woman's door, arrested her in her nightgown and searched her house without a warrant, she claims in court.

Joanne Blight's federal lawsuit does not explain why police did it, or what they were looking for. Nor does it explain why Manteca police conducted the raid, though her home is in Stockton. Manteca is immediately south of Stockton.

She says she is hard of hearing, and that police knew it.

Blight was in bed in her own home in Stockton on Oct. 23, 2014, when "(w)ithout any lawful authority to do so, at approximately 7 a.m., defendants descended on plaintiff's home, raucously pounding on the front door and forcing their way in," she says in the Dec. 2 complaint.

"(S)tartlingly awakened by the noise," she says, she got out of bed, "walked up to the front of the house, still in her nightgown, looked up, and saw that her front door was smashed in and was wide open."

The SWAT team, dressed in black, heavily armed and backed up by the armored vehicle, ordered her to come outside and get into one of their vehicles, she says.

"Plaintiff was hesitant and scared, not knowing who these aggressive trespassers were; plaintiff feared she may be assisting in her own abduction and, worse yet, that she may be harmed or killed," the 17-page complaint says.

Blight says the SWAT team, who filled her entire yard, arrested her with threats and intimidation and held her while they searched her home without a warrant.

After illegally searching her home, she says, they released her without pressing charges.

The ordeal was psychologically devastating says Blight, now 75, so much so that for a long time she did not feel safe in her home.

She seeks punitive damages from the City of Manteca and seven of its police officers, for false arrest, false imprisonment, privacy invasion, negligence, civil rights violations, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

She is represented by Sanjay Schmidt in San Francisco and Jeffrey Silvia and Michael Babitzke in Stockton.

Her attorneys did not reply to requests for comment Monday.

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