District of Columbia: Search Warrants

The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) in Washington, DC routinely obtains search warrants unsupported by probable cause and uses excessive force when executing these warrants, physically assaulting people, damaging their property, and endangering their lives.

In each of these cases, MPD had no specific evidence connecting the homes searched to any illegal activity – instead claiming their “knowledge” and “experience” led them to believe a search would uncover evidence. Our plaintiffs were terrorized by MPD officers who ransacked their homes, seized their property, and in some cases, physically and sexually assaulted plaintiffs during the execution of search warrants. In one case, MPD burst into our plaintiff’s home with guns drawn and pointed at her 11-year-old daughter. In each of these cases, MPD found no evidence of illegal activity.

These actions are an egregious violation of constitutional rights. In federal court, we challenged the systemic misconduct and recklessness of the MPD in obtaining and executing search warrants.

Police departments around the country routinely obtain search warrants with no specific evidence connecting the person to the alleged illegal activity. Instead, these warrants are obtained on generic claims, based on “training” and generalized conclusions, layered with racist targeting. As a result, Black people are most likely to be harmed by this predatory practice.

MPD settled each of these cases, paying monetary damages to each of our plaintiffs.