Pubdate: Sun, 09 Feb 2014
Source: Salt Lake Tribune (UT)
Copyright: 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune
Author: Nate Carlisle
Bookmark: (Drug Raids)


Settlement - an Attorney Says the Woman Was Not Able to Continue Living There.

Salt Lake City will pay $75,000 to the then-76-year-old woman whose 
door police rammed open during a mistaken drug raid in 2012.

The intended house was next door. The homeowner signed the settlement 
Nov. 25, 2013. The Tribune obtained a copy this month through a 
records request.

The settlement ends all of the homeowner's claims against the city. 
The attorney for the homeowner, Stephen Clark, said his client has 
not pursued a claim against the Drug Enforcement Administration, 
which had an agent present during the raid but was not implicated in the error.

Clark said settlement negotiations included discussions with the 
police department about what went wrong and changes that need to be made.

"Even the slight possibility this could happen to someone else was 
something that needed to be addressed," Clark said.

In an interview Thursday, Salt Lake City police Chief Chris Burbank 
said leadership in the narcotics unit was changed after the raid. 
Burbank said his department policies on search warrants are adequate.

"But in this particular case, the policy and procedures were not 
followed," Burbank added.

Burbank apologized for the raid shortly after it occurred.

The narcotics detective responsible for the mistake, Cooper 
Landvatter, received a 20-hour suspension for violating 
search-and-seizure policies, committing conduct unbecoming an officer 
and violating what the Salt Lake City Police Department refers to as 
its "Core Values."

Landvatter apparently confused the home, in the 200 East block of 
Hubbard Avenue (935 South), where he suspected residents were selling 
cocaine with the house next door, according to a report by the Salt 
Lake City Civilian Review Board. The search warrant had the correct 
address. But Landvatter conducted surveillance and took photographs 
of the house next door.

The photographs of the wrong house were shown to the SWAT team in a 
briefing before the raid. No one noticed that the house number 
visible in the photos did not match the address listed on the search warrant.

Police had a "no knock" search warrant. An officer swung a battering 
ram to smash open the door and officers rushed in and pointed guns at 
the elderly woman alone inside. The officers quickly realized their 
mistake. The woman was not injured.

Believing the element of surprise had been lost, detectives did not 
try to serve the warrant on the correct house.

Internal affairs investigators also found a problem with what 
Landvatter told the judge who issued the search warrant. Landvatter 
wrote in an affidavit to the judge that he watched an informant buy 
drugs from the suspect's home.

But the review board report says Landvatter admitted to investigators 
that he lost sight of the informant as he went up the stairs of the 
home. Most of what Landvatter did see was in the side mirror of a car.

Property records show the woman has sold the home.

"She didn't feel as though she was able to return there," Clark said.
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