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Saturday, March 3, 2012

Elderly Couple Can Sue Cops, Federal Agents Over Missing Money

Elderly Couple Can Sue SFPD, Federal Agents Over Missing $200,000
The San Franciso Weekly by Erin Sherbert - March 2, 2012

A judge this week ruled that an elderly couple could sue the San Francisco Police Department and other federal agents over what the couple claims was an illegal raid on their San Francisco home. According to court documents, Malaquias and Cayetana Reynoso were inside their home on June 18, 2009, when officers with the SFPD and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives forced their way into the house and held them at gunpoint for five hours while they searched the property. The couple -- both were in their 70s at the time -- claim the officers refused to let them go to the bathroom unattended or take their medication. When the officers left, Malaquias Reynoso said he noticed $200,000 in cash had "disappeared" from his bedroom during the search. When he confronted the officer, the cop allegedly pointed a gun Malaquias Reynoso's head and said "go back in that house or I'll blow you [sic] head off." Agent Megan Long, the ATF, and the U.S. government asked the court to dismiss the couple's complaint, but U.S. District Judge Susan Illston refused, noting that, as the Reynoso's claimed, officers took the money without reporting it as part of the search. She also disagreed with the defendants who claimed the Reynosos failed to state a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress, according to court documents. "Defendants knew that plaintiffs, who were in their seventies, had no criminal record," the judge wrote. According to the complaint, the search resulted in Malaquias suffering a 'complete physical and mental collapse, necessitating his being carried off to a hospital.'" Illston, however, dismissed claims of "unreasonable force" and unlawful seizure of property under the Federal Tort Claims Act, finding that the federal defendants had immunity. Matt Dorsey, spokesman with the S.F. City Attorney's Office, told SF Weekly they aren't too worried about these allegations. "No findings have been reached about any of the factual allegations, and the city is confident it will prevail at trial with respect to claims against the San Francisco Police Department," Dorsey said.

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