BATF Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms
Family sues over raid
02/20/2002 Gun Sales Tied Up Nationwide
Family sues over raid
Authorities arrested sons without reason, Pueblo parents say
By Karen Abbott and Dick Foster, News Staff Writers
A Pueblo family has accused law enforcement officers of bursting into their home with guns, wearing black masks and all-black clothes, kicking the family dog and arresting their two college-age sons without reason or explanation. The sons, 19 and 22, spent two days in jail and were released without being charged, according to the family's lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Denver U.S. District Court.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado filed the suit on behalf of Dan and Rosa Unis and their sons against the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
Steve Karkos of the Denver DEA office said he knew nothing of the lawsuit and could not comment on pending litigation. A CBI official did not return a telephone call seeking comment.
The raid on the Unis home occurred Aug. 19, 2000, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges that "black-masked, black-helmeted men brandishing automatic weapons and wearing all-black uniforms with no insignias suddenly burst into the house unannounced, kicked the family's dog across the floor, ordered the entire family to 'get on the (expletive) floor,' held them at gunpoint, searched the house, found no drugs or contraband, but nevertheless carted off the family's two sons, Dave and Marcos, and imprisoned them illegally and without charges."
Unis, in an interview from Pueblo said, "The next thing we knew there were five or six police with masks and automatic weapons and stuff yelling at us. It wasn't the nicest language in the world. I see my dog go flying across the room because one of them kicked it." Unis is a social worker for Pueblo County. His wife, Rosa, a public school teacher who suffers a heart condition, became sick during the ordeal.
"I asked them for a warrant and they couldn't produce one," Unis said. "They basically didn't say anything."
In a statement, ACLU legal director Mark Silverstein said, "Once again the war on drugs misses the target and instead scores a direct hit on the Constitution. "These government agents had no search warrant, no arrest warrant, and no lawful authority whatsoever. "They carried out this armed home invasion in flagrant disregard of the Fourth Amendment, which forbids unreasonable searches and arrests without probable cause," Silverstein said.
The ACLU alleges that the raid was carried out by the Southern Colorado Drug Task Force, composed of officers from several law enforcement agencies, including the CBI and the DEA. Unis said he was upset by the way his sons were treated. "They threatened them with jail unless they told what they knew. My sons said that they didn't know anything because they didn't know what it was all about. "I think it was a bunch of cowboys out having a good time," said Unis. "It was totally unnecessary."
Contact Karen Abbott at (303) 892-5188 or abbottk@RockyMountainNews.com.
February 21, 2002
Copyright 2002, Rocky Mountain News. All Rights Reserved.
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