Women Injured Resisting Warrantless Police Entry Getting $6.7 million from Santa Clara
The city of Santa Clara has agreed to pay a $6.7 million settlement to a San Jose woman after her leg was broken trying to prevent police officers from entering her home without a warrant to arrest her teenage daughter last year. The settlement resolves a federal civil-rights lawsuit filed on behalf of Danielle Burfine, who was injured on April 12, 2016 at her home in San Jose. She refused to let Santa Clara officers in her home after they identified her 15-year-old daughter as one of two suspects in the arson of a snack shack at Santa Clara High School eight days earlier that caused $350,000 in damage. A Santa Clara police sergeant kicked in the front door and at some point Burfine fell to the ground and her leg hit a stone pillar. Her daughter was later located upstairs in the home and arrested, and later convicted in the arson.
The defendants in the federal lawsuit were the city of Santa Clara, Chief Michael Sellers, officers Mark Shimada, Mitchell Barry and Peter Stephens, Sergeant Gregory Hill and Detective Greg Deger, as well as 10 unnamed people. City Attorney Brian Doyle said in a statement,
Although there was significant disagreement about the extent of the injury, there was no dispute that the plaintiff sustained a broken ankle in the course of the entry to the plaintiff’s home without a warrant. The city’s insurer determined that the most prudent course of action was for it to pay an amount that would result in settlement.
Attorney Michael Haddad, Burfine’s attorney, took particular issue with how the officers implied that they were in an active pursuit of Burfine’s daughter, as they are clearly heard in the body-cam video that they were arresting the teen on the basis of “on-view charges.” The term typically references a crime or evidence that an officer witnesses directly, but the fire was over a week old by that point. Hopefully the Santa Clara Police Department can figure out how to avoid another similar situation such as this one.