(Source: MIRS.news, Published 05/16/2022). A Flint family is suing the Michigan State Police (MSP) and several officers in connection with a no-knock search warrant that occurred at their home, which wasn't the correct target of the warrant.
The family – grandmother Renee Dunigan, mother Michelle Colston and three minor children ages 14, 10 and 3 – are also calling on the Governor to investigate police practices. They also want the Legislature to ban no-knock search warrants and mandate body cameras for MSP officers.
Attorneys for the family, which lives in a predominantly Black neighborhood, said the raid would not have happened if it had been a white neighborhood "because reasonable care would have been taken by the police to assure that they had identified the correct house."
"The undeniable implicit racial bias underlying the raid – which was led by an all-white Michigan State Police SWAT team – was evident throughout the process, including when they prepared to leave the scene and the many months that have followed the incident," the Rev. Aaron Dunigan, whose mother, sister, niece and two nephews live in the home, said in a statement.
"These officers and agencies must be held accountable for their acts. These types of police practices must be reformed now," he added.
The incident occurred April 21, 2021, when police raided the family's home at bedtime, pulling one family member out of the shower at gunpoint, and entering the children's bedrooms while brandishing weapons, according to the suits filed in U.S. District Court and Genesee County Circuit Court.
The complaints allege the family was forced to sit in their living room with no explanation or the ability to call friends or family. The family also was not allowed to record the raid and none of the officers were equipped with body cameras.
After nearly an hour, the officers realized they had the wrong house, telling the family, "Never mind" before leaving, the complaints alleges.
The complaints assert a violation of the family's Fourth and Fourteenth amendments rights as well as Michigan's Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, resulting in severe trauma, emotional and psychological injury, which has led to difficulty functioning at school, at work and in their lives.
“My family members are God-fearing, law-abiding citizens," Dunigan said. "They have all been traumatized as a result of this unlawful raid and my niece and nephews who were ages 14, 10 and 3 when their home was raided a year ago, have continued to have nightmares and they are experiencing other disturbing symptoms as a result of the police officers’ actions."
The Dunigan-Colston family also called on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to support their efforts and to lead the state through police reform by supporting "crucial bills," including SB 479.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor), would amend requirements related to the execution of warrants, including requiring officers to determine if entry without first knocking and announcing their presence and purpose is necessary and requiring a warrant to specifically state whether officers can enter the location to be searched by force.
Geiss' bill, introduced last May, is in the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee.