The Johnsons’ home was erroneously searched by police officers as the family was threatened and an assault rifle was held to the father’s head.
On February 22, 2013 several intruders barged into the Johnsons’ two-bedroom apartment in the early hours of the morning after kicking the door.
With their guns drawn the assailants restrained two of the family members and then carried out a rummage around their home.
What happened that night?
The stunned family of three remained in the hallway as the strangers went through their possessions.
Shocking as it may be, these impostors were police officers – but there is no way David, Connie and their son Aaron would have known; throughout the ordeal they did not identify themselves as members of law enforcement, and it turns out they did not have a search warrant either.
To add insult to injury, one of the officers pointed an assault rifle at David’s head, while another asked him to put his hands up unless he wanted to be attacked by a police dog. The Johnsons say the growling canine was leashed, but not sufficiently enough.
Then the cops dragged Connie and Aaron from their home, neighbors who had woken up thanks to the ruckus were told to go back inside.
Apart from the fact that no firearms or evidence of criminal activity were found and the Johnsons’ apartment, it turns out the officers had the wrong address. The person they were after lived in an apartment adjacent to the one they had raided.
They were looking for a William Gerst, following a complaint from a woman who said he had threatened her.
The Johnsons filed a lawsuit. Although, their apartment was broken into unjustifiably they argue that even if they had the right location such treatment is unfair based on a doubtful allegation to start with.
Earlier this year US Magistrate Judge Candy Dale ruled there was enough evidence to allow for the trial and last month US District Judge Edward Lodge announced agreed with his colleague.
Now, the three police officers who entered the apartment have made an appeal.
Officers James Davis, Chad Hessman and Josh Bridges’ request comes before the ninth District Court review, which will precede the trial.
The original complaint
Days before the incident Nampa police had already been keeping an eye on a Facebook page that belonged to Gerst. The authorities say the page also had photographs of the man holding firearms and marijuana.
On February 21, 2013 Gerst made open threats to a woman, warning that he would rape her and “kill her kid over 25 bucks”. He had also posted pictures of and naked body of a female lying face down, who according to Officer Davis looked “the deceased or nearly deceased”.
When the police contacted this woman and asked if she was safe, she said Gerst had been threatening her. This is when the cops decided to raid his house.
After mistakenly targeting the Johnsons, the SWAT team did go over to his house – they found marijuana, a bong and other paraphernalia but not an injured woman.
In their lawsuit, the family alleges that the no warrant raid was placed on justification that was “legally suspect”.
The woman Hilda Valle, the Johnsons say, was a petty criminal.
Further investigations show that the police did not have a definite apartment number; this indicates that the raid of the Johnsons’ home was a guess at best.