Woman sues over raid meant for her neighbor

A 78-year-old woman who says a Pierce County SWAT team raided her home by mistake nearly two years ago is suing the county for damages.

Marlene Stivers filed suit last week, saying deputies unlawfully trespassed on her property, assaulted her, held her inappropriately, and inflicted emotional distress on her and her disabled daughter. The lawsuit does not specify the amount of monetary damages she seeks, but in a claim filed with the county in August 2012 she asked for $50,000.

The county disputes most of Stivers’ contentions, risk manager Mark Maenhout said Friday.

“The real story varies from what is alleged in the complaint,” said Maenhout, who declined further comment.

Stivers contends she and her then 31-year-old daughter were asleep in their Spanaway home about 3 a.m. June 10, 2011, when they were awakened by the sounds of shattering glass and explosions.

“Pierce County sheriff SWAT team invaded my home, shattered my bedroom window above my bed while I was asleep, detonated an explosive device, covered me with broken glass, frightened me,” Stivers wrote in her damages claim.

“Afterward, they did not secure my home, board up my window. They made no effort to repair the damage or even clean up the mess they made.”

The suit, filed by Tacoma attorney Geoffrey Cross, says Stivers’ daughter, who has multiple sclerosis, was frightened by the commotion. The younger woman, who cannot move from her bed to her wheelchair without help, was isolated in her room for 30 minutes without knowing what was going on, according to the suit.

Sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer disputed the allegations Friday.

“We were there, and we accidentally broke a window from the outside,” Troyer said. “We never used any explosive device. We never pointed a gun at anybody. Nobody ever entered the house, aside from our detective who went in to apologize and offer to pay for the window.”

Deputies later that morning raided the house next door, looking for guns and gang members, court records show. They found heroin and drug paraphernalia, and, Troyer said, several arrests were made.