A federal trial date has been set in a civil rights suit against the Utah County SWAT team over the 2005 raid of a Springville family's house.
U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell set a tentative three-day trial date for Nov. 17 during a hearing Friday.
The suit was filed by the Chidester family after two SWAT offers threw the mother, father and their adult son on to the ground and broke down the door to their home.
Officers had been casing the home next door, and suspected there was methamphetamine dealing going on. Officers also had reason to believe the people in the suspected meth house could be armed, so SWAT members obtained a no-knock warrant.
Having conducted surveillance for several hours on the night of May 25, 2005, three groups of SWAT members prepared for the raid. After flash-bang grenades went off, two SWAT officers reported seeing two suspicious individuals near the Chidester home. Son Larry Chidester had heard the grenades and went outside thinking there might have been a car accident.
Larry Chidester said he was told by an officer to get on the ground and was then tackled, knocking the wind out of him. His face was ground into the gravel, causing lacerations and breaking his nose. He was later taken to a hospital.
A second officer said he was looking for a suspicious person when he kicked in a side door to the Chidester home. He confronted the mother, Emily Chidester, who was thrown to the kitchen floor and a gun was put to her head. The same officer moved to the bedroom where Lawrence Chidester was putting on his pants. Ripping the back off his shirt, the officer threw Lawrence Chidester to the ground.
The family says their house was not the subject of the search warrant and that officers violated their constitutional rights against unlawful search.
In August 2006, U.S. District Judge Dee Benson ruled it would be up to a jury to decide if the two officers violated the family's constitutional rights. Last March, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Benson's decision on one of the officers.The appellate court ruled that given his role in the incident, officer Jason Parker was protected under governmental immunity. Officer R.A. Deke Taylor can still be taken to trial.
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