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Lawsuit: Officers aimed at drivers after Colorado robbery

By: Associated Press
May 18, 2014 Updated: May 18, 2014 at 2:39 pm
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DENVER — Motorists detained at an Aurora intersection two years ago while police tried to find a man who robbed a nearby bank have sued the city, alleging unlawful search and seizure.

Attorneys filed the lawsuit Friday in federal district court on behalf of 14 plaintiffs. Some of them say officers approached them at gunpoint after the robbery, handcuffed them and made them wait for two hours while police cleared the scene, The Denver Post reported Sunday (http://bit.ly/1jJ29WV ).

Stacks of money stolen from the bank on June 2, 2012, contained a GPS tracking device that led police to the intersection, but officers could not immediately pinpoint its location. Nearly 30 people were ordered out of their cars, and police found a suspect in one of the vehicles.

"(Police) brandished ballistic shields and pointed assault rifles directly at innocent citizens, including children under 10 years old," the lawsuit alleges. "Officers with police dogs were at the ready. No one was free to leave."

But Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates told the newspaper that the officers acted reasonably given the circumstances.

"My officers took a very dangerous person off the street, and he's in jail today," he said. "And nobody got hurt."

Oates and several officers also are named in the lawsuit that seeks unspecified monetary damages.

David Lane, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, said if police want to use GPS technology to track suspects, they need to use a more accurate handheld beacon that can home in on a transmitter to within a few feet.

"If you want to use technology, make sure you know how to use it and plan for contingencies like this so that they won't involve detaining innocent people for hours and pointing high-powered automatic weapons at children," he said.

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