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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choprzrul

The bad apples always hide behind the protection of the government agency that they work for so as to make themselves financially unaccountable for their actions. This case had to go clear to the 9th circuit before individual officers could be sued.


This needs to change. Each instance of violations of civil rights should automatically result in loss of 25% of the officer’s pension directly to the aggrieved. Once citizens start receiving monthly pension checks compliments of the bad apple officer, civil rights violations will come to a screeching halt. Hitting the pocket book is the only way to make this stop.


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The Gimlet Eye

Welcome to THE POLICE STATE. Hope you enjoy your stay. And if you see flash grenades going off in your living room, just consider it “for your protection.”


Bob

I have two issues here that have bothered me for some time.


First: I do support our Law Enforcement Officers. However, the law enforcement community is significantly and increasingly evolving deeper into military tactics and acquiring battlefield weapons to be used against we the people the civilian population in the alleged excuse of terrorist activity. SWAT teams are known to have military explosive devices and weapons within their inventories.


For instance Santa Maria Police have 50 cal machine guns, the primary heavy weapons system employed by our military’s combat ground forces. These are large heavy automatic weapons usually mounted on infantry fighting vehicles and tanks.


It is my strongest opinion that local police agencies should not be allowed to equip themselves with these types of weapons systems. Battlefield heavy weapons systems employed by our local police agencies in our urban communities is totally inappropriate and unnecessary.


Some may argue that law enforcement does need this type of capability to respond to a terrorist threat. OK, I agree. However lets limit this capability to a state or federal homeland security force limited to a mission of protecting against both domestic and foreign terrorist threats and not civilian law enforcement responsibilities. There is no need for local law enforcement to be equip with military heavy weapons systems to go after the local meth dealer or street gang.


None of these battlefield weapons would have stopped the attacks on 911 and are extremely unlikely to be the cause of deterrence or prevention of a future terrorist attack.


Second: I believe most law enforcement officers are honest people with good intentions. However, the increasingly frequency of police misuse of force, unnecessary escalation to use of force, and more importantly lack of integrity, falsifying reports, and more often just pain old criminal activity or lack of respect for the laws they are sworn to uphold are becoming all too often more frequent.


There is a systematic lack of accountability in the law enforcement community. Oh sure lots of policies and procedures to argue the point. The fact is all to often these polices and procedures are ignored by management, or useless against the “Police Officers Bill of Rights”, police union contracts or over turned by the Civil Service board. The whole mentality of circle the wagons and code of silence within the law enforcement community is the most disturbing and disgusting act of all. Many good men & women with honorable intent get chewed up and careers ruined by this mentality. Young people who enter law enforcement with great expectations of honorable service to their community are soon changed by the realities of the work and the influence of some officers with poor attitudes who should have moved on to other endeavors long ago.


I think it is time to restore and increase public accountability over law enforcement. We elect our country sheriff, why not elect a local city police chief, or a state top cop? This wont solve all the problems, but it could go a long way toward making a local elected top cop be more responsive and connected to the people of the community, make more appropriate decisions regarding tactics and department accountability.


I strongly believe that police departments should not have investigative authority over themselves. We need a state law that creates and empowers a investigated bureau within the state Attorney Generals office charged with being the primary authority conducting all police misconduct investigations, officer involved shootings and use of force, and any alleged violations of the law committed by officers both on and off duty regardless of which jurisdiction they occurred in.


With the trust, respect and expectations of the people given to police officers and their broad powers of authority and the oath they swear too. When a rouge police officer is convicted they should face criminal penalties more severe than that of the common man due to the expectations of their trusted and honorable profession of protecting society from violators of the law.


Just my .02 cents.


smartmouth

Well said, Bob!


smartmouth

I do support our police officers as well … have family and friends in law enforcement! But lame is lame!


R.Hodin

The 1033 program allows the pentagon to give surplus military hardware to civil law enforcement agencies. This may be new or used equipment, and is given out based on applications yearly until stocks are depleated.

http://www.justnet.org/Pages/1033.aspx


application for the 1033 program

https://www.dispositionservices.dla.mil/rtd03/leso/state.shtml


MaryMalone

Great post, Bob! ^ +


TaxedSheep

Well said Bob! we the people need to take back control of our country !


smartmouth

Lame. Local law enforcement really need to be reviewed. Budgets need to be reviewed. Too much of this nonsense (and other laziness) going on up here. We need improve on the professionalism demonstrated in the conduct of local officers and we need to monitor our personnel more closely.


bobfromsanluis

A raid with a SWAT team bashing in the front door and tossing in flash grenades? What the hell is wrong with knocking on the front door identifying yourself as a police officer demanding that the front door be opened? Has the militarization of our police forces detached them from common sense? And like one person asked, who was the judge that signed the warrant? Did he even ask the detective about the suspect’s current address, with some sort of evidence that the detective knew for sure that the suspect was at the address being served by the warrant? A lot of questions need to be answered, hopefully the appeal with uncover those answers.


tj

Straight up correct on all counts!


4th Amendment – No warrants issued except upon probable cause. Said warrant must describe the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.


The warrant should not have been issued.


choprzrul

If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and waddles like a duck; it is most likely a duck. Can someone define the difference between this: http://ddq74coujkv1i.cloudfront.net/mp_main_wide_SWATEdina452C.jpg and this: http://l.yimg.com/www.flickr.com/images/spaceball.gif ??? SWAT has become a paramilitary unit in operation, training, equipment, and tactics. Seems like a clear violation of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1889.


OhHenry

What Judge signed that warrant? Be nice to know that name next election. Is Tanore still working? Maybe soon to be knocking at your door with flash grenades.


Slowerfaster

A 5:30 AM raid with “flash grenades” is either a no-knock or quick knock event. This is a definition of a terrorist attack. It’s also how many innocent civilians get killed. They at least avoided that travesty.


But, now we have several agencies paying settlements, probably through higher insurance costs ( and ultimately by taxpayers ) …and we have now a 13 year old that will never trust police in their lifetime.


Who was the judge that issued the warrant without reviewing where the defendant actually was ?


RU4Real

Where did this Bozo member of S.W.A.T get HIS training? He’s gotta go.


BeenThereDoneThat

Sounds like a good ruling for the defendants. Good for the 9th Circuit for setting a wrong, right.