Body cam video of SWAT raiding wrong house in October 2018

On Oct. 26, 2018, Louisville Metro Police’s SWAT unit burst into the West Chestnut Street home of Ashlea Burr and Mario Daugherty. The reason for the raid: A detective claimed he smelled marijuana coming from outside the home on separate occasions and believed someone was growing and selling marijuana inside, according to a search warrant. The incident was captured on police body camera and resulted in no charges.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Louisville couple and their three children have been paid $460,000 by the city to settle a 2019 lawsuit claiming 14 Louisville Metro Police SWAT officers erred in raiding their home, smashing through the front door, using explosive devices and holding the family at gunpoint.

The couple who own the home, Ashlea Burr and Mario Daugherty - a local artist whose work has been featured at the Kentucky Derby Museum and on local news – were paid $60,000 while their three children each received more than $133,000, according to the settlement reached earlier this month.

“The family is relieved the City has resolved this matter, recognized its importance, and helped provide closure to the traumatic event,” said their attorney, Josh Rose.

The funds for the children will be placed in a restricted account where money taken out must be approved by the court and used for the education and support of the kids, according to the Feb. 2 agreement, obtained through an open records request.

The agreement stipulates that the city does not admit fault and both sides settled to “avoid the expense and uncertainty of continued litigation” in a “disputed claim.”

Police, including five officers later involved in the Breonna Taylor case, conducted the October 2018 raid because a detective, Joseph Tapp, claimed he smelled marijuana coming from outside the West Chestnut Street home on separate occasions and believed someone was growing and selling marijuana inside, according to a search warrant.

Rose said officers were acting on a tip to police given months before Burr and Daugherty even moved into the home.

And the lawsuit filed against the city and several officers claimed there was no probable cause for a raid, that the search warrant included false information, and police misconduct created a situation that “very easily could have resulted in the death of a parent or child for no good reason.”

In fact, a man and woman named in the search warrant affidavit and described as growing and selling marijuana do not live at the home – information that could have easily been discovered by police, according to the suit.

The couple initially believed they were being robbed on Oct. 26, 2018, as officers smashed through the front door, forced Daugherty to the ground and held the others at gunpoint.

One of the children, a 14-year-old, tried to run to her grandmother’s home next door when police drew their weapons and forced her to the ground outside in the rain, the suit claims.

The teen can be heard sobbing on a body camera video of the incident.

Police continued to point assault rifles at the family “even after it became clear that the Residence was a family household – not a drug dealer’s lair,” according to the suit.

The lawsuit also questions the SWAT team's use of force.

"It is completely unreasonable to execute a warrant that vaguely mentions someone potentially smoking marijuana at a residence with a SWAT team of 14 officers, exploding devices, forced entry, and assault rifles, particularly when no investigation was done to determine who lived in the residence," the suit says.

Five of the officers — Brett Hankison, Myles Cosgrove, Mike Nobles, Joshua Jaynes and Mike Campbell — were later involved in the planning or raid of Breonna Taylor’s home on March 13, 2020, in which Taylor was killed.

Hankison is currently on trial for wanton endangerment after shooting into a neighboring apartment during the Taylor raid.

The suit argued the department has a custom of searching predominantly African American homes in mostly Black neighborhoods "without probable cause" and in violation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches.

The family has said the department should have made changes after the raid of their home, which could have prevented Taylor's death. 

"What happened to us, it should have stopped then," Burr told WDRB News in June 2020. "They should have stepped forward and made changes then, and Breonna's life could have been spared."

Since the Taylor raid, police have effectively stopped forcing their way inside homes to execute search warrants, according to an investigation by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.

The story, published in August, revealed police conducted just four forced entries related to search warrants in the previous 14 months. That is compared to 67 such raids in the seven months prior to the Taylor raid.

The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating LMPD’s policing and practices, including whether the department makes unconstitutional stops, searches and seizures on patrols and when executing search warrants at private homes.

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