Denver Police Sued After SWAT Team Searches 77-Year-Old Grandma's House

A Denver SWAT team, wearing body armor and wielding automatic weapons, carried out a “terrifying hours-long search” at an elderly woman’s home on January 4, bodycam footage released by the ACLU of Colorado shows.

The footage shows officers arriving in an armored vehicle and ordering 77-year-old Ruby Johnson, a retired postal worker and grandmother, out of her home. Chuckles are heard in the video as Johnson – who was wearing a bathrobe and bonnet, according to court documents – comes out and tells officers she is home alone.

The footage then shows police searching Johnson’s house.

The ACLU said that police “found nothing to connect Ms Johnson or her home to any criminal activity whatsoever, but they left her home damaged, in disarray and caused Ms Johnson physical and emotional harm that persists to this day” and that Johnson “no longer feels safe in her own home."

Local news outlets reported that Denver Police were searching for a stolen truck that they were told had “two drones, six firearms, $4,000 cash, and an old iPhone 11 inside.” A detective submitted a search warrant “relying on the ‘Find My’ app” that suggested the phone may have been in Johnson’s home, according to reports.

The ACLU said in a press release on Wednesday, November 30, that they filed a lawsuit against Denver Police Detective Gary Staab, accusing him of “unjustifiably violating the privacy and security of Ms Johnson’s home by hastily seeking, obtaining, and executing a search warrant without proper investigation, adequate facts, and legal justification, in violation of the Colorado Constitution.”

Local TV station KDVR published a statement from Denver police spokesman Jay Casillas that said: “The Department of Public Safety and Denver Police Department (DPD) sincerely apologize to Ms Johnson for any negative impacts this situation may have had on her. SWAT was involved in the execution of the warrant due to allegations that six guns had been stolen and may have been located in Ms Johnson’s home.”

Chief Ron Thomas ordered an internal investigation and DPD said they hoped to resolve the matter “without further litigation,” KDVR reported. Credit: ACLU of Colorado via Storyful

Video transcript

- Hands off the wheel.

- All right, transfer here. We're good.

- All right, we're about to nickel up.

- Nickel up, to be--

- In the black car?

- There was a strap here.

- The strap was for here.


- Is anyone inside 53 Cady. Denver Police Department with a search warrant. Can you come to the door with your hands up.


- Ma'am, come to me. It's the police. Come here. Let's get-- come off the rail, we'll tell you.

- How are you doing?


- Do you have anyone in your house?

RUBY JOHNSON: Do I have anyone?

- Nothing.

- Get that thing.

- Anybody else?


- There you go, no one else? Are you by yourself?

- What was in that?

- Nobody else is in the house, ma'am.

RUBY JOHNSON: No, nobody else is in the house.

- And have you seen anyone pass by your house? You haven't seen that?

- You haven't seen the reasons in the house? There's someone walking over there. And if they come a single day-- take some more outfit in the rest period.

- Greg, you got somebody that can come take her?

- Stuffing, I'll take it.


- Hold three.

- Have you got anything?