Denver police SWAT raid protester’s apartment for search warrant

Erika Pruiett didn’t know why the Denver police SWAT team was surrounding her apartment, or why they were pointing guns at the building, or why they wanted her and her roommates to come out with their hands up on Thursday morning.

But she knew she didn’t want to go out.

“I started thinking about Breonna Taylor, all these botched raids, they go to the wrong houses sometimes. All that was going through my mind, and I’m like, ‘I don’t think we should go outside, they’re going to shoot us. We’re going to go outside and they’re going to fear for their lives and blast us.’”

Pruiett, who was with her 2-year-old daughter in the home she shares with four roommates in the 3000 block of West 14th Avenue, instead grabbed her cell phone and started to livestream video on Facebook as Denver police officers ordered everyone out of the house around 11:20 a.m. They had a search warrant for the home, connected to one roommate who had been arrested that morning after carrying a gun to a Colorado Springs police protest earlier in the summer.

The video has since gained attention on social media, and Pruiett argues police used too much force when they executed the search warrant.

“It was totally unnecessary,” she said.

Denver police spokeswoman Christine Downs said in a statement that the police department uses the SWAT team to execute search warrants “when there is a safety threat.” Spokesman Doug Schepman declined to say what that threat was in this case.

In the video, Pruiett, 27, is panicked, sobbing and screaming. She said she was terrified for her and her daughter’s safety. After about 15 minutes, police officers used less-lethal munitions to shoot out the windows in the home, and everyone inside eventually walked out unharmed.

Pruiett was not charged. The officers were there to serve a search warrant in connection with felony criminal charges against one of Pruiett’s roommates, Lloyd Porche, 33. He was not home during the raid.

Porche had been arrested by Colorado Springs police earlier that morning on charges of menacing and engaging in a riot in connection with an Aug. 3 Black Lives Matter protest. That protest was outside the home of a Colorado Springs police sergeant who was one of two officers to shoot and kill 19-year-old De’Von Bailey in 2019. Both officers were cleared of wrongdoing.

During the Aug. 3 protest, Porche was one of four people who carried rifles and who got into a conflict with the drivers of two pickup trucks who were attempting to drive through protesters, according to Colorado Springs police.

In a video posted by KRDO-TV, the individuals with guns are seen standing in front of the trucks and stopping the vehicles from driving toward the crowd in the street. It does not appear the individuals pointed the guns at the truck drivers, but they are shown blocking the drivers’ paths. Porche was one of three people charged in connection with the incident; Colorado Springs police said the investigation is ongoing.

Colorado Springs police Lt. Jim Sokolik said Tuesday that police officers seized an “AR-15 style rifle” from Porche and Pruiett’s home during the execution of the search warrant. Sokolik said he had no information on whether the gun was legally owned. Pruiett said it was.

Pruiett and her roommates are now looking to move from their apartment — in addition to broken windows and busted doorframes, they received a notice of eviction after Porche’s arrest — and are raising money for the move and to cover the cost of repairing the apartment.

She said she is pursing a complaint against Denver police and that she was traumatized by their tactics.

“I thought they were here to shoot somebody,” she said. “They weren’t here to talk to us. Otherwise they would have knocked on the [expletive] door.”

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