A 54 year old Santa Clara grandmother has filed a complaint, claiming police officers from Santa Clara and Campbell removed her from her home and searched it without cause or consent and without a warrant. The police claim they were looking for the home owner’s 30 year old daughter, who was suspected of being involved in a stabbing and stolen vehicle case.
The incident occurred on October 7, 2010 when Josephine Smith said she answered her door to find 12 to 15 police officers and one holding a battering ram. They asked about her daughter and she informed the officers her daughter didn’t live there.
They said they would have to search the home regardless. The officers then removed Smith from the home by grasping her on her arm, leaned her into a fence, and handcuffed her. According to police, the detention of Ms. Smith was “for safety reasons” and it was also “brief”.
The officers didn’t find the daughter at the home and Ms. Smith maintains it’s because she doesn’t live there. Probation records, according to police, are what state her address is the same home. Her daughter is allegedly wanted in connection with a stolen vehicle / stabbing case, which could mean felony charges that include grand theft and assault with a deadly weapon.
Ms. Smith filed a claim against both cities this past week, saying her rights were violated. Ms. Smith refused to consent to the search and the officers failed to provide a warrant. They also searched a neighboring rental property without a warrant.
The cities have both refused to comment though they have admitted officials are looking into the matter. The cities have 45 days to accept or reject the claim, according to the Mercury News. If rejected, Smith can then file a lawsuit.
Unless there is an emergency where evidence could be destroyed or someone could be harmed in the time it takes to get a warrant, police are required to do just that. If Ms. Smith had consented to the search of her home, no warrant would have been necessary. But it seems if they had time to assemble a force of 15 officers and get the battering ram, they could have found a judge to sign off on the warrant.
Interestingly, no arrests have been made in the stabbing and auto theft case that led them to her home in the first place.
When you are the subject of an investigation or even a warrant, having someone on your side to make sense of police actions and subsequent court proceedings is a major asset. If you’re facing charges or have reason to believe they are imminent, contact our attorneys today.