Woman, 78, Awarded $3.76M Over 'Find My iPhone' Raid

Denver woman's home was surrounded by SWAT team after app pinged nearby
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 5, 2024 6:32 PM CST
Grandmother Awarded $3.76M Over Police Raid on Home
This image taken from Denver Police body camera footage provided by the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado shows Ruby Johnson surrounded by SWAT officers,   (Denver Police Department via AP)

A 78-year-old grandmother in Denver has been awarded $3.76 million over a police raid that left her afraid to be home alone. In Jan. 2022, police in SWAT gear looking for a stolen truck and iPhone surrounded Ruby Johnson's home and used a bullhorn to order her to leave, the Denver Post reports. Johnson, wearing only a bathrobe, was placed in the back of a police vehicle for hours while officers searched her home. She said they smashed open her garage door with a battering ram, damaged property including a collectible doll, "and left the house in shambles," per the Post. She sued under a new Colorado law that allows people to sue police when their state constitutional rights have been violated, reports the AP.

According to the lawsuit, police obtained a search warrant after the owner of a truck that had been stolen with multiple firearms, two drones, $4,000 cash and an iPhone inside said the Find My iPhone app had pinged near the intersection where Johnson lived. The lawsuit said Johnson had nothing to do with any stolen property and the warrant was wrongly obtained because the app doesn't provide precise locations of where a phone could be, only the general area. A jury found that the raid was "without probable cause" and awarded Johnson $1.26 million in compensatory damages and $2.5 million in punitive damages, the BBC reports.

After the raid, in which police parked an armored personnel carrier on her lawn, Johnson ended up moving out of her home in the Montbello neighborhood. "Not only was her privacy violated and invaluable possessions destroyed, but her sense of safety in her own home was ripped away, forcing her to move from the place where she had set her roots and built community in for 40 years," said Deborah Richardson, executive director of the ACLU of Colorado, which helped represent Johnson in the lawsuit. (More Colorado stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.