On May 23, 2013, at 10:00 pm our lives were changed forever.
Twelve officers from the Pima County Sheriff’s Department raided our house.
A new neighbor called 911 and stated that he heard yelling and screaming coming from across the street. He claimed that he had heard a POP sound that might have been a gunshot (the 911 operator used the word Gun Shot, not the caller).
Ten to fifteen minutes later, the deputies surrounded our house and begin pounding on the exterior walls, calling for us (my wife and I) to come out.
We were sleeping in the back master bedroom; we had two swamp coolers going plus a Hepa fan filter to help with my wife’s allergies. We had been sleeping since 9:00 p.m.
When we opened the door, we were immediately ordered to come out with our hands up. Three deputies were in sight, two of the deputies had assault rifles at aimed at us, while a third was aiming his semi-automatic pistol at me.
The adrenaline overload was so high in one the deputies with an assault rifle that we could see the visible shaking of his assault weapon. (This guy was so wound up we were afraid to even stumble as we were led away, we felt that anything no matter how small would cause him to shoot us). The rest of the deputies were stationed around our house. We were handcuffed (I was also expecting to be searched, but I guess they could see that in my tighty whitey’s I couldn’t really hide much) and led 25 yards through a gravel parking area in our underwear and bare feet to the road outside of our yard, we were asked if anyone else was in the house and our answer was “no.” Our house was then searched.
Up to this point, we had not been told why this was happening to us. My wife had asked to put on a robe before she was ordered out of the house, but the answer was “NO.”
After we were questioned, and our house was searched, our new neighbor came out and met with the deputies. When this neighbor was told that there was not any evidence of domestic violence in the house or on our property (this is the first time that we heard of the reason for this raid), the neighbor then stated, “well if it wasn’t that house then maybe it was the house next door.”
The neighbors next door were watching the raid from their front porch, but that didn’t stop these deputies from performing another SWAT style raid on them, (yes they used assault rifles and pulled in a squad car for cover ), again no evidence of domestic violence was found.
One of the deputies then started asking our new neighbor a few questions and he realized that this neighbor might have some mental issues.
Please note that during this raid there was not any kind of supervisor on the scene. In fact, it was almost 60 minutes before we were released and allowed to go back to our house to get dressed and came back outside, before a supervisor even arrived.
These are the facts of this case. As a result, we are suing the Pima County Sheriff’s Department for their mishandling of this event. All of the aforementioned facts are also in the deputies’ reports of this event and in one deputy’s deposition.
During one deputy’s deposition, it was discovered that these actions are part of the Pima County Sheriff Department’s “Standard Operating Procedures.”
Weapons may be aimed at anyone whether they are in their underwear or not (We were clearly not a armed threat). Please see the PCSD Major Policy/Use of Force/chapter 3 /page 1-2 here
Note: It makes me curious as to why several pages of these policies have been redacted and what is in the policies.
Your home may be raided, weapons aimed at you, ordered to leave your house undressed, you may be handcuffed and detained based on a phone call from someone (it doesn’t matter if the person is crazy or not).
Your house and property may be searched without permission or a warrant.
911 callers do not have to be interviewed before life changing actions are taken.
This neighbor had been transported to a mental health facility by the Pima County Sheriff Department just weeks before this happened. With 12 deputies involved, you would think that they could have spared one person to interview this new neighbor, before taking such drastic actions.
In fact, more than one of the deputies involved with this raid has had several interactions with our new neighbor and knew of his mental health issues. The deputies and the 911 operator both had computer access to the records showing that this neighbor had made threats against any law enforcement officer if they came on his property and documents stating that this neighbor had mental issues and had heard voices in the past.
We live off of Bopp road west of Tucson, there have been several home invasions out in our area, I wonder what would have happened if I had been armed when I opened the door (My wife still has nightmares about that possibility).
My wife is currently on medication and is seeing a counselor because of this event. She has not slept through the night since this has happened. We both have several other manifestations of PTSD since this event.
● The 911 caller has not been charged with making a false call
● The deputies involved were never reprimanded.
● We have never received any kind of apology for their actions and “The Standard Operating Procedures” that were used this night are still in place.
Is this how you would want to be treated by the Pima County Sheriff Department?
If this is how our Pima County Sheriff deputies are being trained, then I fear not only for my life but the lives of everyone in Tucson and Pima County.
Sheriff Dupnik should ultimately be held responsible for this action. He has been the Pima County Sheriff for 34 years. He is the man who has instituted these training procedures. I would venture to guess that none of these deputies involved have ever known a Pima County Sheriff Department that didn’t have Sheriff Dupnik at the helm.
The Pima County Sheriff’s Department has no problem handing out speeding tickets, but if you are in a traffic accident with no injuries, they will not send a deputy to investigate the cause and assign responsibility. If you have a theft, you have to go online and file a report, no one will be sent to gather evidence.
Illegal Immigrants are given free rein to do anything they want and they are never held accountable (they don’t even have to have car insurance, so watch out when one of the crimigrants causes an accident, you and your insurance company will have to cover the damage).
The PCSD will come and evict you from your house for delinquent property taxes, but if someone has damaged your house or your property, once again you will have to go online and file a report.
Some people want to blame conservative politicians for lack of funds. I blame Sheriff Dupnik. He has his priorities all wrong.
The Citizens of Pima County should come first!