Pittsburgh Family Sues FBI Over Wrong Address SWAT Raid

We’ve documented the proliferation of no-knock SWAT raids and the militarization of what used to be everyday police work. It’s even worse when the paramilitaries get their information wrong and knock down the wrong door. Pets have been shot, innocent people terrorized and sometimes killed. One Bellevue, PA family has decided they’re not taking it lying down…

It turns out the FBI was looking for Sondra Hunter who had lived at the same address two years previously when they used a battering ram to enter Gary Adams’ home. pittsburghtrib.com reports that the Adamses had only been at the address for a year. Oops.

The feds couldn’t have done much legwork prior to the raid. Court records had a Long Beach, CA address for Hunter. In fact, she returned to Pittsburgh when she learned that she was wanted by the cops. Doesn’t sound like much of a hard case, does she?

“They had guns on my wife, my babies. I’d like to know how they would feel — the people in my house — if that happened to them,” [Adams] said. Denise Adams, 58, said seeing the red dots from the officers’ targeting lasers crawl across her children’s faces also has cost her faith in law enforcement.

Old fashioned police work seems to have gone out of style. Did the FBI or locals watch the house to see if Hunter was there? They couldn’t have. When it’s scary-easy to find large amounts of information on just about anyone through the magic of the Internets, why not use the tools that are right there on your desk?

It’s evidently a lot easier (and cooler!) to put on the Kevlar, pick up an AR and kick in a door. Wrong address? Sorry. Here’s a number to call to get your door fixed.

It’ll be difficult for the Adamses to prevail in the suit. They’ll have to show that the feds were reckless or negligent. But it’s good to see victims of these wrong address raids fighting back. It’s about the only way to force cops to be a little more careful before suiting up.

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23 Responses to Pittsburgh Family Sues FBI Over Wrong Address SWAT Raid

  1. avatarwade says:

    one can’t help but notice the flashlight crookedly electrical-taped under the foresight of the M-4. “professional modification.”

    • avatarCUJO THE DOG OF WAR says:

      Yep, I think the flashlight taped to the forearm with 90mph tape would’ve even looked better, and worked better. I can think of 5 websites off the top of my head who would carry a universal barrel mount.

  2. avatarRalph says:

    The police probably have a qualified or full immunity under California law. Immunity can be waived and should be in this case, but collecting damages is not a slam dunk.

  3. avatarAdam says:

    “It’ll be difficult for the Adamses to prevail in the suit. They’ll have to show that the feds were reckless or negligent.”

    Not checking address seems pretty reckless and negligent to me.

  4. avatarBlake says:

    I’d say laser sights crawling across the faces of children qualifies as reckless.

    • avatarCUJO THE DOG OF WAR says:

      That’s enough to make a man want to go “Charles Bronson” on the local PD.

      • avatarBlake says:

        In court, all a lawyer would have to do is ask if the SWAT guys are versed in the rules of gun safety. (I dare the SWAT leader to say “no.”)

        From there, the defense lawyer asks the SWAT leader if the SWAT team is aware of the basic rule of firearms handling: “Do not point your weapon at anything you’re not ready to destroy.”

        Seems to be pretty much a slam dunk.

  5. avatarCUJO THE DOG OF WAR says:

    What’s scary about this is that we have criminals who dress up in the same way and kick in the doors, the same way. And just what the hell gives them the idea that every warrant should be for busting down the door first? Not to even mention that no surveillance was done to verify the target’s presence, but at what point did the criminal past or the severity of the present charge justify a blitzkrieg raid? I fear it is not going to change from innocent citizens being harmed, but from cops being shot, before some more guidelines on use of force and common sense returning to the judges signing these warrants. If I barely heard some shouts, from multiple voices-like that makes their id clear, as my door is being kicked in, I very likely will begin shooting. I would be within my rights, until they came through and shot me. And more likely than not, it would be a wrong address, etc. or whatever bs. I also think they should be required, by federal law, to video all that is done, to prove their identification was clearly voiced, that force used was necessary, etc. If prison inmates have this right for forced cell movements in prison, I daresay we citizens deserve the same if not better!

    • avatarAdam says:

      “What’s scary about this is that we have criminals who dress up in the same way and kick in the doors, the same way.”

      We had a guy up in WA going around in a Crown Vic trying (and succeeding an couple of times if memory serves) to pull people over. He was not and had never been a cop.

      • avatarCUJO THE DOG OF WAR says:

        At the Goose Creek Naval Weapons Station we had a fellow security forces officer who drove an auctioned DARE police car, with markings, every day onto the base. I kept telling my Lt. that there was no way he could be in the right, that SC allows no dual certifications. A year or so later I saw in the paper that the local PD had pulled him over and confiscated police radios, a dash blue light and thousands of rounds of ammo and multiple “SWAT type weapons.”

  6. avatarTodd AF Vet says:

    Raid was in PA, hunter move to California. To Magoo and other who think this is not a problem here are a couple of quotes from the news article.

    “The lasting impact of the raid on Gary Adams’ home became clear in a comment from his 3-year-old granddaughter during a recent trip to the pharmacy. She said, ‘Granddad. Police. Hide” She will make a great law abiding citizen one day!

    “suspected of being members of the Manchester Original Gangsters street gang. Hunter was still at large at the end of the sweep, and court records show that she was living in Long Beach, Calif., at the time. She returned to Pittsburgh when she heard she was wanted by the police.”

    To me it sound like the old “Good enough for Government work attitude. Well we have her at this address let go. Verify? Nay this way more fun.

    “University of Pittsburgh law professor David Harris said the family faces several obstacles in winning. In particular, he thought it would be tough for them to overcome the officer’s qualified immunity because the Supreme Court has repeatedly raised the bar for suing police officers.
    “Not only do they have to make a mistake, it has to have been particularly egregious,” for them to lose immunity, he said. “They have to be violating a law that was absolutely crystal clear, and they have to have known it.””
    So no way to hold them accountable for there $$$$-ups.

    • avatarCUJO THE DOG OF WAR says:

      To reply to their immunity, I wonder how the police would take it if a community formed their own security patrols and barricades, announcing that they would only call police when they need them. They could have a spokesman make clear that they felt safer under their own governing, not with police acting with immunity trudging through their streets.

  7. avatarstateisevil says:

    They usually kill the family pet no matter what. They call it “dog-killing detail.” They kill even when it is in a cage.

  8. avatarwestphilthy says:

    My mother always taught me that the police are not your friends. Sadly, it’s getting truer by the minute.

  9. avatarRes Publica Americana says:

    In parts of eastern Russia, there were a few communities around the time of the Soviet collapse that got sick and tired of tyranny, raided the local armories, booted the cops out, and organized permanent armed patrols, rotating the patrolmen, and were such in their determination and apparent ability that authorities still haven’t attempted to do anything about it 20 years later. These communities still exist – in the deep dark, sure, but they exist.

    I hope that starts happening everywhere, and soon.

  10. avatarsdog says:

    this reminds me of an incident in my area where the sheriff’s department entered a house that a package of drugs had been erroneously sent to the house of the town mayor. Cops bust down the door and slaughtered both of the family dogs, then detained the family with children included, and sat them right in the blood pools and the carcasses of their pets, only then to find the truth of what really happened.

  11. avatarMark says:

    This is so wrong. Unfortunately it is becoming more and more common. As agents of the state these thugs have the immunity they need. Suing them will not solve the problem. What needs to be done is to visit the same violence on them they visit on the people. Only when they realize that they cannot get away with what they do, that it is more costly for them to do what they do, will this stop.

  12. avatardavvehall says:

    If this is the kind of shit the police can get away with now.Imagine what they will get away with when the shit hits the fan,all excusable by the circumstances.So when this economy fails,the war is on,hope that you are ready for it!!

  13. avatarSid says:

    This is not hard to make right if the officers involved were at least human beings.

    They need to appear in normal clothes, hat in hand, and apologize. Pitch in the money for the repairs, take the kids to the local amusement park, let them tour the police station, toot the siren, turn on the lights on a patrol car, “JR Police Officer” badges, clean-up the local park and hang new swings on a Saturday.

    But no, they will live inside the belief that they were just doing their jobs and shit happens. Their arrogance and inability to express empathy makes the rest of the law enforcement community look bad by association.

  14. avatarBob says:

    SWAT teams train regularly and watch all kinds of tactical videos which make them itch to go out and do the “real thing.” It’s a big adrenalin rush that can quickly become addictive. They now look for the slightest excuse to go out and have some fun and hopefully shoot someone.

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