EXCERPT FROM INTERESTING NEW SCOTUS CERT PETITION (Police Safety Related)
The events at the heart of this case began around 2:20 p.m. on August 11, 2014, when West ar-rived home with her children to discover her house sur-rounded by the City of Caldwell police—five officers in total, watching every exit. App. 35. The officers were there because they had reason to suspect that West’s ex-boyfriend, who was wanted on an outstanding war-rant, was inside. App. 33–36. West explained to Respondent Richardson that her ex-boyfriend had been there earlier, that she had told him to gather his belongings and leave, and that she had told him to chain the front door behind him and exit through the back. App. 33, 36. She also said she could not be sure whether he had done so, but that she was certain her dog was in the house. App. 36–37. Richardson then threatened her with arrest for har-boring a fugitive if the ex-boyfriend proved to be in-side. App. 36. After some back-and-forth, Richardson 4 eventually asked her for “permission to get inside [her] house and apprehend him.” App. 38. West agreed and handed him her keys. She then left.2 Soon after West left, the sergeant in charge called the Canyon County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and spoke with an attor-ney, who informed him that if he had consent to search the house, he did not need a warrant. App. 38–39. But the officers on scene did not use the keys. In-stead, the sergeant in charge called the local SWAT unit, which had not previously been on scene, and asked for their assistance. App. 39. By 3:00 p.m., about half an hour after West had first come home, the SWAT team had been activated. App. 40. Once the SWAT team was activated, the plan changed. Respondent Doug Winfield, the team leader, developed a tactical plan “designed to extract [the ex-boyfriend] from the residence without requiring SWAT members to go inside.” App. 40. The first step in the plan was to surround the residence and call out in hopes of inducing the ex-boyfriend to come out. App. 40–41. The second step was to bombard the home with tear-gas grenades to force him to come out. App. 41. If the tear gas failed, the SWAT team would then conduct a “limited breach” of the home to search for him. Ibid. The SWAT team conducted several dry runs of the plan at police headquarters and then deployed to West’s home, arriving there around 5:23 p.m.—about three 2One officer testified below that he had wanted West to stay during the search so “she could revoke consent at any time,” but it is undisputed that the police did not require her to stay and that she left with their full permission. App. 38. the officers on scene. Ibid. At no point during this several-hour process was West informed that the plan had changed from “get[ting] inside [the] house” to bombarding it with grenades. App. 38–40. At no point did she consent to the new plan. Ibid.And at no point did any officer ei-ther obtain a warrant or seek further guidance from counsel about the legality of their new plan. Ibid. In West’s absence, the SWAT team implemented the plan as described. First, they announced their pres-ence. App. 42. Less than 20 minutes later, they began bombarding the house with grenades. Ibid. A little af-ter 7:00 p.m., they for the first time tried to use West’s keys in her front door, which (as West had told them) was chained shut. Ibid. The keys would have unlocked the back door, but they were unnecessary: That door had been shattered by a grenade, allowing the team to enter without needing a key. Ibid. After a thorough and destructive search, the po-lice concluded that West had been right and her ex-boyfriend was not there. App. 43. Instead, the police had spent hours laying siege to and bombarding a house that was empty except for West’s dog, Blue. West was not allowed to reenter her home until some time later—and when she did, she found it “de-stroyed.” App. 43. Her and her children’s personal be-longings were saturated with tear gas; there were holes in walls and ceilings; and the home was littered with debris and broken window glass. Ibid. During the 6 siege, officers had fired tear gas into every living space in the home, leaving everything—food, clothing, elec-tronics, furniture—covered in a golden sticky residue that caused burning and tearing upon contact. Ibid. West and her children were unable to move back into the home for two full months. App. 44. During that period, the City of Caldwell provided them with a hotel room for three weeks and offered $900 for the damage caused to West’s personal property, but otherwise denied liability.