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Denver to pay $3.76M to grandmother due to "Find My" error

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Police who wrongly raided and ransacked an elderly woman's home looking for a stolen truck and guns with Apple's Find My have cost the city of Denver $3.76 million in compensation and damages.

Denver police seeking to recover a stolen truck loaded with guns, ammo, and cash back in January of 2022 used Apple's Find My technology on another iPhone to locate the vehicle, but picked the wrong house out of a fairly wide area to storm in an effort to catch the thieves.

As a result, 78-year-old grandmother Ruby Johnson has received a sizable award from the jury in the resulting lawsuit.

The city will be paying the $3.76M award even though the defendant officers — Detective Gary Staab and Sgt. Gregory Buschy — were sued as individuals. Denver police had previously cleared both men of any wrongdoing, but the jury disagreed.

"We are disturbed by the lack of training or policy changes and hope that the amount of the punitive damages award will send a strong message that the police department must take seriously the constitutional rights of its residents," Johnson's attorney Tim Macdonald told CNN. A Denver District Court clerk said the city has not yet filed an appeal of the verdict.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the case on behalf of Mrs. Johnson, noted that the raid was predicated on "based on "an alleged location ping from an iPhone's Find My' app that the officers did not understand and for which they had no training." Policed relied on a "Find My" ping from an iPhone 11 that was probably still in the stolen truck, but the area identified included parts of six other properties across parts of four city blocks.

The ACLU and the jury concluded that the two police officers who ordered the raid had no reason to single out Mrs. Johnson's house as the target. The officers are liable for approximately $1.25 million each in punitive and compensatory damages.