Jury Rules in Favor of City in SWAT Case

by Chris McDaniel on July 22, 2011

Four years ago, Sharon Ramage was ironing clothes when she heard an explosion outside of her house. Shortly after, the then 57-year-old grandmother was tackled by men who had stormed into her home.

The Louisville Metro Police department’s SWAT team detonated a flashbang and broke in through the front and back door. The paramilitary unit was serving a search warrant for her son, who they thought lived on the premises. He actually lived at a different location.

Ramage is now in federal court seeking compensation from the department for property damage and pain and suffering.

“I haven’t worked since,” she testified while under oath.  “I haven’t been able to sleep. It’s not much of a life to live, not much of a way to spend time with the grandkids.”

Using a walker, Ramage told the jury SWAT team members slammed her near the fireplace, injuring her back and knee and breaking her toes. During the trial, her attorneys pointed out that 35 officers armed with rifles, bulletproof shields and an armored vehicle infiltrated the house, which were 11 more than it took to kill terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.

Detectives requested SWAT assistance in serving the warrant because her son, Michael, had a violent criminal history and an arrest warrant. Police also cite the house was fortified due partially to a 4 foot iron fence that encompassed the property.

But Ramage’s son didn’t have an arrest warrant, and the fence is made of wood and only goes around part of her property.

The jury listened to three days of testimony from the Ramage family, the detective who ordered the raid and a SWAT expert.

After deliberating for only an hour, the jury ruled in favor of the city, despite the fact that the city had not called anyone to testify.

Attorney Garry Adams, who represents Ramage, argued mistakes were made by officers due to policies put forth by Metro Government.

However, the judge threw out parts of the case concerning why SWAT was at the Ramage home, narrowing the case to how they entered, and whether or not it violated her Fourth Amendment rights.

Adams says he wasn’t surprised by the verdict.

“Nobody was really shocked because we all understood that it was a high hurdle to get over on this very limited issue,” he says.

Ramage, who has never been arrested in her life, was shaken by the trial.  She is hurt by the way the county attorney mocked and acted out her injuries, insinuating Ramage was faking.

After the verdict, she kept repeating that she was shocked by how much power the government has.

Her legal team will have to decide within 30 days if they will appeal.

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