LAPD Uses Battering Ram on Elderly Couples Home

Warren and Harriett Johnson

Warren and Harriett Johnson

While City of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was enjoying his Labor Day, attending the Budweiser Made In America Festival, on taxpayers dime, elderly couple Warren and Harriet Johnson were not.  After detectives at LAPD’s West LA Division traced blood left at a March burglary as belonging to 18-year-old Deshawn Johnson they raided his grandparents home.  His grandparents, Warren and Harriett Johnson were on their way home from Florida on Friday, August 22 when relatives and neighbors notified them that there was heavy police activity at their home.

Police broke down the front door with guns drawn. Video shows that both Deshawn and his twin brother, the only occupants in the house, were taken outside, and that’s when the Johnson’s say the LAPD got beside themselves.

Video shows LAPD officers tampering with the Johnson’s home security system. They pulled out one camera, covered up another, and turned up one camera in the hallway to face the ceiling.

An original American Craftsman style home near Normandie Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, the Johnson’s returned home to find nearly ever door, including the front door had been knocked down with the LAPD’s battering ram.

During the search their home received extensive structural damage according to the Johnson’s attorney Nana Gyamfi.

Attorney Nana Gyamfi stands with South LA homeowner Warren Johnson Fri. Aug. 29 at a press conference discussing the LAPD's trashing of his home.

Attorney Nana Gyamfi stands with South LA homeowner Warren Johnson Fri. Aug. 29 at a press conference discussing the LAPD’s trashing of his home.

Officers were trying to find a cell phone, computer and speaker box they believed Deshawn had in his possession. He was taken into custody and later released, Gyamfi said.

Police said they found a cell phone stolen during the burglary they were investigating.

Gyamfi alleged that officers moved and covered up the home’s surveillance camera during the search. In the video, officers could be seen”just hanging out,” Gyamfi said.

Gyamfi said the Johnsons believe they were racially profiled and plan to file a claim with the city. They are demanding the house be repaired and that LAPD review its policy for executing search warrants.

The department acknowledges that the Johnson’s doors were damaged during the search.

“They just tore up the closets, tore up the bedroom though, tore up the frame of the house, for no reason whatsoever, kicked over the door, kicked the TV’s over,” Johnson said. “For what reason? Looking for a computer?”

The Johnson’s bedroom doors, closet doors and the front door were also damaged during their search. Their home security camera shows police entering the living room with guns drawn and then turning one camera in thehallway up at the ceiling.

When officers went to serve the search warrant, they say they knocked on the door and called into the house. When no one answered, they used a hand-held ram to break down the front door. Officers say they broke the other doors because they were locked.

“You lock your bedroom door because you’ve got your clothes, your jewelry that you don’t take on vacation with you in the bedroom,” Johnson said.

Attorney Gyamfi says that the twins were asleep at time the LAPD came and because the house is so big and where their room is situated it is unlikely they heard the officers knocking.

“The young men cooperated fully with the department.”

Police say officers followed department policy. They told the family an officer would come back with a claim form to fill out in order to pay for the damages.

The Johnson’s attorney, Nana Gyamfi, says officers returned four days later with the form and she advised them not to sign. She says her clients were treated unfairly because of where they live.

“How do you act when you go into the house of 80-something-year-old people when you are going to get a person and three inanimate objects out of a house on Halldale versus how you do that in WestL.A.,” Gyamfi said.

Witnesses say the LAPD officers threatened to come back and do it all over again if the grandson returned home. The Johnsons have lived in this home since 1964 and have no plans on moving out despite the LAPD’s threat.

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