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Flint family suing Michigan State Police over April 2021 raid on their home

Michelle Colston, holds her four-year-old son Steven, during a news conference in Flint
Steve Carmody
Michelle Colston, holds her four-year-old son Steven, during a news conference in Flint

A Flint family filed lawsuits in federal and state courts Monday against the Michigan State Police for a raid on their home in April of 2021.

During the raid, MSP troopers knocked down the home’s front door and held the family until the officers realized they had been given incorrect information in a murder investigation.

The search warrant for the home was obtained, in part, on information supplied by a confidential informant.

In June of 2021, MSP spokeswoman Kimberly Vetter said after searching the home, officers determined “the informant knowingly provided false information to investigators.”

“What this really was, was sloppy police work,” said Civil Rights Attorney Bill Goodman. “It’s police work that would not have occurred in the white community.”

At a news conference in a Flint church Monday, the family’s attorneys contended the officers acted on racially biased assumptions in the decision to raid the house occupied by a Black family.

In a written statement, the Michigan State Police claimed "many of the allegations being made in the lawsuit are not accurate, nor are they reflective of the policies and procedures of the MSP relating to the execution of search warrants. We are prepared to defend against these allegations in court."

The lawsuits are seeking unspecified financial and punitive damages. Goodman said also the two women and three children who were home during the raid have been suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder.

“It is still very difficult for them to talk about what happened to them,” said Rev. Aaron Dunigan, a family member.

An attorney for the family said the state police did pay to replace the family's front door.

The family is also asking for a broader investigation into the raid itself, though to date they have not received a request for a review by the U.S. Justice Department.

A main point of contention is whether MSP used a "no-knock” warrant.

In the past, the Michigan State Police have contended a verbal warning was given before the front door of the home on Garfield Street was knocked down. The family says there was no warning.

In their statement after the filing of the lawsuits, state police said officers "announced their presence at least twice prior to making entry into the residence."

There is a bill to ban the use of “no-knock” warrants in the Michigan Legislature, but its future is unclear.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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