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Agents used 'Dirty Harry' tactics and traumatized family, Mark Shurtleff says

Published: Tuesday, June 3 2014 11:25 a.m. MDT

Agents from the Utah Department of Public Safety and the FBI search the house of former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff while executing a search warrant on Monday, June 2, 2014. Shurtleff said Tuesday that agents used "Dirty Harry" tactics and traumatized his family when they searched his Sandy home as part of a criminal investigation. Agents also searched former Attorney General John Swallow's Sandy home Monday.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — An angry and emotional Mark Shurtleff says agents who searched his home Monday used "Dirty Harry" tactics and traumatized his teenage daughter.

"I don't care what people think I may have done, and the truth will come out on that," the former Utah Attorney General said Tuesday. "But there was nothing that justifies what they did yesterday in my home."

The Utah Department of Public Safety and the FBI served search warrants at the Sandy houses of Shurtleff and his successor John Swallow late Monday afternoon. The agencies, along with Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill and Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings, are conducting a criminal investigation into alleged wrongdoing during their tenures in the attorney general's office.

Shurtleff, who is in Washington, D.C., said his 17-year-old daughter was in the bathroom when investigators entered the house. He said they ordered her out of the room with her hands in the air. Four agents wearing body armor pointed guns at her, including one who had a laser sight trained on her chest, he said.

"These John Wayne wannabes, freakin' Clint Eastwood 'Dirty Harry' tactics were absolutely unacceptable and unneeded," he told KSL Newsradio's "The Doug Wright Show."

"How do you give back innocence to a 17-year-old? She's tiny. She's no threat," Shurtleff said. "She'll never get that out of her mind."

Shurtleff's and Swallow's houses were among three that investigators searched simultaneously Monday in the ongoing investigation.

Sources confirmed Tuesday that the third home belongs to Renae Cowley, a former Swallow campaign staffer who now works as a Salt Lake lobbyist.

Cowley's attorney Jim Bradshaw said she has cooperated with the investigation from the start and Gill and Rawlings granted her immunity. She feels "extremely violated" by the search, he said.

"It's really puzzling to us why they would execute a warrant on her home. It doesn't make any sense," Bradshaw said.

Swallow's attorney, Rod Snow, again Tuesday declined to comment.

Gill wouldn't discuss the specifics of the search at Shurtleff's house but said agents handled themselves professionally and consistent with protocol for serving a search warrant and securing the premises.

"There are certain things that you have to do when you go into an area that is unfamiliar to you," he said. "This is what every citizen out there is subjected to when it comes down."

Gill said given Shurtleff's law enforcement experience, "he has a pretty good idea of what's involved here."

Utah Department of Public Safety spokesman Dwayne Baird said no guns were drawn to his knowledge. Agents, he said, didn't treat the search warrants differently than they would in any other case.

"From what I understand, it was calm and peaceful at both places. There wasn’t any contention in the home," Baird said Tuesday.

But Shurtleff said Baird is either misinformed or lying.

"There is nothing that justifies what happened in my home," he said.

DPS later issued a statement that said, in part, agents used the "minimum force necessary to execute the warrants and ensure officer safety in an unknown environment."

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