Detective on the hook for faulty SWAT team raid

December 13, 2011

The 9th Circuit Court ruled Friday a Santa Maria couple can sue the detective whose faulty warrant led to a SWAT team storming their home in search of their son who was already in jail. [CourthouseNewsService]

The Santa Maria Police SWAT team, supported by the warrant, burst into the home of Hope and Javier Bravo Sr. at 5:30 a.m. in 2006 with flash grenades. Officers proceeded to point weapons at the Bravos and their 8-year-old grandson who fled screaming to the bathroom.

Based on a tip, Detective Louis Tanore determined that Javier Bravo Jr. had been one of several suspected gang members who stashed weapons used in a drive-by shooting and went to the courts with an affidavit to secure a warrant to search what the detective claimed was his last known address.

Tanore failed to note that the affidavit he used to secure the warrant said that Javier Bravo Jr. had spent the last six months in prison as part of a two-year sentence for receiving stolen property. Officers abandoned their raid after Hope Bravo produced a letter from her son mailed from prison.

The Bravos sued Santa Maria, Santa Barbara County and several individual officers and officials, alleging that the raid had violated their Fourth Amendment rights because it had been based on a false warrant. The Bravo’s settled with some of the defendants before the District Court ruled in favor of the remaining city and county defendants, including Detective Tanore.

“U.S. District Court Judge Florence-Marie Cooper found Javier Jr.’s incarceration immaterial to the raid and saw no evidence of recklessness, intentional or otherwise, on the part of Tanore,” Courthouse News Service said.

A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit in Pasadena unanimously reversed Judge Cooper’s decision noting that the SWAT team had no cause to serve a warrant without proof Bravo Jr. resided in the home.

The federal appeals court also concluded that Tanore’s “reckless disregard for the truth” led to the faulty warrant.

Tanore testified that he “reviewed Javier Jr.’s rap sheet in preparing the affidavit, and though he could not recall with certainty whether he had observed Javier Jr.’s two-year sentence, imposed on September 9, 2005, he acknowledged that he may have,” the ruling states.

“Given the importance of the custody status to the finding of probable cause for the search and to the justification for nighttime service,” Judge Michael Daly Hawkins wrote for the panel, “a reasonable jury could conclude that Tanore’s failure to mention Javier Jr.’s two-year sentence or to follow up and inquire about Javier Jr.’s custody status amounted to at least reckless disregard for the truth.”

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Bob’s post was both an excellent representation of the community’s voice, as opposed to “just one individual’s belief.” In my opinion, it was excellent because it offered solutions as well as criticism. An Oceano resident told me she is interested in forming a local group to study this question, because San Luis Obispo County has also engaged in the issuance of nighttime warrants based on false affidavits, signed off by a judge.

Just as a suggestion, there are three parts to the process to study:

1. Who initiates the process by which an individual is targeted to be the subject of the search warrant?

2. Who is required to sign an affidavit in support of the search warrant to show the warrant is justified?

3. Who is the judge who makes the decision and who choose which judge makes that decision?

Then, in order to know whether the police action is authorized, or whether the procedure is legitimate,

you need a group of individuals to study source materials like the Police Officer Standards and Training manuals. Start by looking at the web site

Next, we need to compare how other states handle their police officer training and discipline. After the police rioted against Viet Nam War demonstrators in New York City, then Mayor Lindsay ordered an investigation and discovered that the riot by police had been preplanned. The results of this investigation led to the formation of a Civilian Review Board, so external investigation of police incidents could continue. But the Board has become a paper tiger as their membership and procedures have changed. What went wrong? How do we prevent further weakening of the justice system by the failure to discipline criminal actions on the part of the “prosecutorial authority?” (The police and the district attorney.) I would also add the courts within that definition, specifically when the judge is the proximate cause without which, kicking someone’s door in would never happen.

Finally, bad public defenders slough off their work by rationalizing a bad warrant (i.e., one issued without justifiable cause): they say, “Oh, it must have been a ‘ramey warrant.’ Where there are exigent circumstances they don’t need a warrant to kick the door in.”

Oh, really? What is the criterion for that kind of action? Since that is a poor excuse for lack of leadership in the ranks, we need to meet that argument and get it out of the way before someone wastes our time with it. Arresting someone in a neutral area is one thing. Kicking the door to his house in, at night, where his children and unarmed civilian non-combatants can be shot, is something entirely different.

So, if you are really interested in a long-term enduring commitment to study the issue and repair the system, it starts with engaging your “opponent”. We need to be asking questions of our law enforcement agencies in public workshops. If you have a good leader at the helm, he will be able to assign the right people to provide accurate and timely answers, and people who can not only cite the laws and policies now in place, but state who can change them.

Most importantly, what is the process by which discipline and prosecution of criminal acts by officers on the job takes place. Do we need a separate agency to handle whistleblower complaints by police personnel in order to protect them?

Unfortunately, I predict that the 9th Circuit court decision will be overturned. If you only studied one of these cases, which has set precedent in the state of California, you should start with the Ramparts scandal in Los Angeles and the case of Javier Ovando v. Los Angeles. The people who discovered and prosecuted rampant police corruption in the City’s police department and specifically in their gangs unit, are still working as public defenders and DDAs in Los Angeles. This is an ongoing battle between good and evil, and it never ends. But if we don’t do it, we will ultimately lose our country and our system of government. This is a wake up call.

If you are interested in participating in one workshop to be followed up by a public discussion with Sheriff Ian Parkinson, you need to put yourself on the list, by emailing your interest to If Sheriff Parkinson consents to attend a public meeting, it will tentatively take place towards the end of January, 2012.

Mr. Parkinson will be asked to give a one hour presentation in a lecture format. He will be asked to answer questions by the audience for one hour. He will be asked to attend a one hour follow up reception. Following that, there will be a five-hour workshop where groups split up to focus on a particular area of study. The goal is to discuss, argue, and regroup. The “regroup” is the necessary ingredient to inform ourselves as a community as to what is happening on “their side of the line” and what is happening on ours.

The police need to be informed that they are a “civilian” force, and not a military one. These are two distinct sets of “protection.” They need to remember, and we need to remind them, that we and they are “civilians,” and that they are us, and the line is drawn in our hearts and minds.

Thank you, oto.

Perhaps if our police departments and sheriffs departments weren’t training along-side the Bahrain and Israeli military, they wouldn’t have such issues with concern for the rights of the civilians they are supposed to “protect and serve.”

The reason our American police departments are acting like military is because they are being trained by, and along-side, military.

Wtf? have’nt you heard of the patirot act? or all the latest its ok via obama jutices to NOT need a warrant or anything but a clue?

Nice writing , but they are using anything to take away anythimg you and I might think is our right to fair trial.

Even free speech is enough to land you in jail ! Sorry but the police are being trained for civil unrest. done deal.

Let me put it this way, we are in so deep that the buck is worth 20 cents,, while they back petal for the consant global bailouts.

One day the bank holiday will send us to a halt. all assest by then will be managed. that day may soon or 10 years from now, depends on

on interest rates and when the imf gives the ok to the rest of the world enough of us!

I might be wise for the SLO Narcotics Task force to take note of this, especially Jason Dickel from the SLO pd.

They might want to include a certain SLOFD violent thug, as well.

Sounds like the Santa Maria judicial program needs a make over. After reading the other article where the Keystone Cops shot each other I’d say that their PD needs a make over as well.

Once in awhile like politicians I feel that Law enforcemnt agancies need turn over. It seems most LE departments need new blood or else they become Barney Fifes. Perhaps they become complacient, or they become cronies I’m not sure but I’d say it’s time for SM to mix it up a bit, time for some changes. As far as the judge, I would like to know more about this judge. Is this a pattern? Is it just this judge?

Do a google for [israeli military training u.s. police]

THAT’s a big part of the problem we are having with, in general, our country’s police forces.

President Obama has vastly expanded the presidents’ rights and powers since he has been in office and, along side that, our police departments are being trained by the military to ACT and REACT like the military.

I think I’ve read you say before that you think people are silly for being concerned about attempts to allow our government (and, by extension, its newly militarized police departments) the right to arrest anyone just because a person verbally accused them of being involved with terrorism.

I found the militarization of our police forces unbelievable, too, until I spent some time researching.

Anyway, if it wasn’t you that posted the “being silly” comment, mea culpa. Ya’ all look alike from this side of the screen =)

Is this the “Liberal” 9th Circuit court, brunt of conservatives everywhere?

I suppose it’s true: even a broken clock is correct twice a day.

“U.S. District Court Judge Florence-Marie Cooper found Javier Jr.’s incarceration immaterial to the raid and saw no evidence of recklessness, intentional or otherwise, on the part of Tanore,”

This Judge should be fired. Clearly, there is a higher regard for law enforcement than your average citizen. Secondly, there should be a high restitution paid to all the VICTIMS of this raid. Yes, they were victims.

It is interesting…………only one or two individuals have been “disliking” these comments………

That’s because the rest of the SMPD monitoring the message boards are on a donut break.