Evansville, IN — In 2012, the Evansville Police Department conducted a SWAT raid on an elderly woman and her two daughters who had committed no crime. After years of attempting to escape liability and hide the body cam footage, on Friday, a federal appeals court ruled that the EPD “committed too many mistakes” to be shielded from liability in the homeowner’s lawsuit.
The negligence of the department in the wrongful raid of Louise Milan’s home was so atrocious that the official ruling compared them to the fictional Keystone Kops of the early 20th century silent film.
“That really was the whole main focus, excessive force. We think the court saw it the way we do and not as police do, and we think the jury is going to see that way too,” said Kyle Biesecker, Mrs. Milan’s attorney.
On June 21, 2012, the EPD SWAT team was responding to anonymous internet posts that were apparently threatening to the police. Instead of investigating the threats, they haphazardly ordered a search warrant to Milan’s home where the IP address was traced. Having conducted no investigation about the occupants of the home, a dozen officers hastily geared up with AR-15s drawn, kicked in windows, threw flashbangs, and held an elderly woman and two children hostage while police tore apart their home.
After assaulting and endangering the lives of this innocent family and finding nothing, police finally conducted a brief investigation and found that the threats were issued by Milan’s neighbor, Derrick Murray. The following day, Murray was arrested and pleaded guilty to making the threats through piggybacking Milan’s open WiFi.
After city attorneys had attempted to protect the EPD from liability for the raid by claiming qualified immunity, a judge called them out for it. In his ruling, Judge Richard Posner wrote:
“Police are not to be criticized for taking threats against them and their families seriously. But flash bangs are destructive and dangerous and not to be used in a search of a private home occupied so far as the police knew only by an elderly woman and her two daughters. We cannot understand the failure of the police, before flash banging the house, to conduct a more extensive investigation of the actual suspects: (Derrick) Murray, living two doors away from the Milan home and thus with ready access to Mrs. Milan’s open network, and the male Milans. The police neglect of Murray is almost incomprehensible. His past made him a prime suspect. A day of investigating him would have nailed him, as we know because a day of investigating — the day after the violent search of the home — did nail him.”
The infuriating body cam video was released publicly and serves to undermine the relations between Evansville residents and the department. The dramatic video is akin to a first-person shooter video game. It illustrates the true danger faced by the Milan family during this home invasion by heavily armed militarized men.
To highlight the sadistic nature of police, near the 5:30 mark in the video, as officers are tearing through the basement, they come across the family cat. One officer is heard saying, “There’s a cat,” to which his fellow officer responds, “Here, I’ll kick it.”
Luckily the Milan family escaped the assault physically unharmed. However, the emotional stress of having your door kicked in, flash-bangs thrown at you, being held hostage by men in black military attire, and being told you’re a criminal, can weigh heavy on a person’s emotional stability.
What self-respecting human being could attempt to claim “immunity” from liability after subjecting a family to such horrific nonsense?
What this says to the community and the Milan family is this, “I know we could have severely injured your teenage daughters and blown a hole in your face, but look, it was an honest mistake, you have no recourse… we are the police.”
Luckily an exception to the rule occurred, and the court ruled in favor of justice in this instance.
Watch the video below and imagine that this is your house and your family. If that was your daughter who had a flashbang grenade thrown at her as she innocently watched TV on the sofa, would you be okay with the police saying they weren’t liable?