SWAT Team Sued for “Terrorizing” Family at Gunpoint

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The Pittsburgh police department is under fire by a Pennsylvania family that has filed a lawsuit against them for what the family is claiming an attack against their constitutional rights. The family claims more than two dozen SWAT team members raided their home and terrorized their two children in retaliation against the father of the family from a previous incident.

In 2010 at a local bar, Michael Murray, an off-duty police officer, was trying to help remove a customer from the establishment. At that time a fight broke out and William Moreno, the family’s father, ended up throwing the officer to the ground. Murray ended up being knocked unconscious, his leg broken, and tooth chipped. Moreno, who would later be convicted of aggravated assault in 2012, left the bar to return home to his family.

Less than 24 hours after the bar fight occurred a team of at least 23 officers dressed in full SWAT gear detonated flash grenades at the Moreno family’s door and forced their way into the Murray’s house. The officers had a warrant and sought to arrest William Moreno, however a lawsuit has been filed and they are accused of putting his family through 45 minutes of “terrorization” in the process.

The SWAT team allegedly handcuffed Moreno, his wife Georgeia, Georgeia’s stepfather, and Georgeia’s adult son Billy. In court, Georgeia said that Billy was forced to lie on broken glass. She recalled pleading with officers, telling them there were young children upstairs.

Then they threw us all on the ground and were handcuffing us, kicking us, screaming,” Georgeia Moreno told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “They had rifles pointed at our heads.”

At one point, the officers were so rough with the stepfather’s surgically repaired arm that the altercation necessitated another surgery.

You think you can get one of ours, and we won’t get one of yours?” the officers are accused of saying.

They just ransacked the house,” said Tim O’Brien, the family’s attorney. “Everything was done wrong. Everything they did was in complete disregard of the Constitution.”

According to the lawsuit, police also violently dragged Georgeia’s 10-year-old son from the bathtub, injuring his ankles. Officers reportedly humiliated the boy by forcing him to stand naked next to his four-year-old sister at gunpoint.

Officers have continued to harass and threaten the family since the raid, telling them “That’s how we do things here” and that they should move out of Pittsburgh,” the complaint reads.

Although Moreno was in the wrong for the assault against a police officer, the family claims their retaliation went way too far. The family is seeking $50,000 in damages, claiming the SWAT raid was in breach of their Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. US District Judge Nora Barry Fischer refused to dismiss the case earlier this week, citing inconsistencies in officers’ explanations.

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