An Evansville woman is suing the city, the police department and the police chief after a SWAT raid at her home last summer.
The civil lawsuit was filed earlier this month with the U.S. District Court on behalf of Louise Milan.
Last June, an Evansville Police SWAT team raided Milan's home on East Powell Avenue to execute a search warrant for someone they say posted threats about officers and their families using Milan's computer IP address.
Derrick Murray was later arrested and admitted in federal court that he made the threatening posts by using his smartphone to connect to a wireless internet router in Milan's house.
This suit, filed against the City of Evansville, EPD, Chief Billy Bolin and several as of now unnamed officers, alleges Milan's constitutional rights were violated.
Her attorney Tuesday cited what they believe was excessive force and the use of flashbangs in a non-violent situation.
The suit claims that as a result of the actions of the defendants Milan has suffered and continues to suffer sever mental anguish and emotional distress.
The attorney representing the City of Evansville declined to comment on the pending litigation Tuesday as did the Evansville Police Department.
EPD did, however, post a lengthy statement regarding the incident on its Facebook page this afternoon:
"As most of you probably know, we are being sued regarding the investigation into online threats made against our officers and the community. There has been a lot of public discussion about the use of our SWAT team during the investigation. While we look forward to our day in court, we would like to make a statement to reassure the citizens of Evansville that we are a professional agency. Our actions during that investigation, while not popular with everyone, were based on information gathered from multiple sources. Some of the details of the investigation have never been discussed publically because the criminal case was still active. Although the suspect in the criminal case has just pleaded guilty, this civil suit will prevent us from releasing some of those details until we go to court.
Here are some of the concerns we want to address:
During this and any investigation, we follow the information. We went to the house because that is the address the threats came from. Despite the wording used by local media, we did not go to the "wrong house" nor did we "mistakenly" go to that house. The suspect admitted he was using that IP address to post the threats. That is where the information led us.
The SWAT team was used because of the nature of the threat. It is easy to question this decision after the fact because we did not encounter any threats while securing the home. We feel fortunate that nobody tried to harm us, but now that is being used against us. Our SWAT team is used to secure houses for search warrants on a regular basis. We are glad they rarely end in violence. But just because they do not end in violence does not mean the use of the SWAT team was excessive.
We repaired the damages to the home that day. Someone else's criminal behavior created this event. We knew the suspect would not come down and repair the damages. We repaired the damages because walking away and saying "sorry about your luck" was not the right thing to do. Notice the criminal who created the incident is not being sued.
We included the media because the public has an interest in what we do. You only have to look at Evansville Watch to see the level of interest in what is going on around Evansville. People have long complained about the veil of secrecy they felt the police have operated under. We were trying to remove that perception and have received negative feedback because of it. We have done numerous other things in the last year to open up to the public and allowing the media to be there was just one of those things.
We ask that people allow all of the facts to come out in court before passing judgment. We appreciate the community involvement in our efforts to make Evansville a great place to live. We could not do it alone."
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(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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