Louise Milan learned this the hard way when SWAT officers smashed through her door and threw flash-bang grenades into her house in a case that is getting attention again because of court action this month in a lawsuit.
The cops were looking for the person who had made anonymous threats against Evansville Police Chief Billy Bolin online, but the threats were actually made by Derrick Murray, a local gang member who had stolen Milan’s Wi-Fi with his smartphone. Murray lived down the street from Milan. Her Wi-Fi was not protected with a password.
Flash-Bang Grenades Used On 68-Year-Old Grandmother
Not surprisingly, Milan sued the Evansville Police Department (EPD) for violating her civil rights. The lawsuit filed in federal court makes several very disturbing claims.
“The EPD and Officers did not have the name of any specific suspect,” the suit says. “The only people at the residence were Milan, who is sixty-eight (68) years old, and her eighteen (18) year old daughter, Stephanie Milan.
“The officers smashed Milan’s window and storm door and threw in two flash-bang grenades that created property damage in addition to the destroyed window and storm door. The officers used flash-bang grenades despite the fact that [there] were no threatening suspects visible. Milan and her daughter were ordered on to the floor at gunpoint, handcuffed and paraded in front of their neighbors into police vehicles. Both were detained and questioned by the officers.”
The city argued earlier this month in court that the force of action was “objectively reasonable.”
A disturbing helmet camera video of the raid shows SWAT team officers joking and engaging in casual conversation on their way to the raid, as well as after the raid. The video was released by Evansville’s city attorney in an attempt to dispel complaints about aggressive police tactics.
The suit alleges that the EPD violated Milan’s rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution. It also accuses the city of Evansville for negligence for not properly training or supervising the SWAT team in the 2012 raid. Bolin is named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
Story continues below video
Investigators learned that the women were not responsible after examining the computers.
“We’re talking about a search warrant, not an arrest warrant,” Milan’s attorney, Kyle Biesecker, told The Evansville Courier Press. He believes that thelevel of force used was not appropriate for executing a search warrant.
Even Bolin admits that Milan and her granddaughter are no threat to the public.
“I’ve met with the Milan family several times,” Bolin said. “They are nice people.”
The FBI eventually arrested Murphy, the gang member.
The city said it paid to fix items that were damaged. Biesecker said that’s not enough.
“There are a lot of different things that they could have done,” he told The Courier Press. “Ms. Milan, all she wants is some acknowledgment that police were wrong.”
The city said it had tied “known criminals to the residence who had violent histories, gang association, weapons related charges or possessed weapons.”
How To Protect Your Family
This case underscores the importance of protecting your security with a strong Wi-Fi password. There have been other disturbing incidents of criminals hacking into Wi-Fi devices, including a frightening incident where a man terrorized a 2-year-old girl through a “nanny cam.”
Do you believe the police action was justified? Tell us in the section below.