A federal judge yesterday denied a motion to dismiss an ACLU of Massachusetts lawsuit challenging the Boston Police Department’s (BPD) decision to use a SWAT team to break into an innocent family’s home without confirming the correct address.
Before sunrise on November 27, 2018, BPD officers violently entered and ransacked a home in Brighton without knocking and held a family with children at gunpoint and in handcuffs for at least 20 minutes, even though their apartment number did not match the address on the warrant and the key provided by the property manager did not work.
In her ruling yesterday, Judge Indira Talwani wrote: “Defendants argue that the Regis’s right to be secure in their own home gave way to an officer’s ‘objectively understandable and reasonable’ mistake. … It is difficult to understand how the allegations set forth in the complaint describe a mistake that was either objectively understandable or reasonable.”
“With the recent killing of Breonna Taylor—an innocent Black woman—in a botched SWAT raid, and with the president preparing to send the military into our cities, this case stands as another stark reminder of the need to reimagine the role for police and to reform police tactics,” said Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts. “We need bold policy changes that address structural racism and systemic inequality at the root of our policing institutions.”
The ACLU complaint alleges that BPD and the City of Boston violated the family’s civil rights. The complaint also alleges that BPD has failed to develop policies to reduce the risk of officers entering the wrong home and has failed properly to train its officers. The complaint seeks a court order directing BPD to adopt new policies to prevent wrongful SWAT raids and also seeks financial compensation for the emotional distress the family has suffered.