Rolly: Shurtleff should know 'Dirty Harry' tactics when he sees them

Published June 23, 2014 7:12 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A Utah woman has little sympathy for former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff's complaints that a law enforcement raid on his home was excessive and frightened his teenage daughter.

Shurtleff — who along with his successor, former Attorney General John Swallow — is the focus of a criminal corruption investigation — has complained that agents entered the Sandy house with guns drawn and ordered his 17-year-old daughter out of the bathroom with her hands up and a laser directed at her chest.

Shurtleff said such force was unnecessary and called the conduct "Dirty Harry" tactics that traumatized his family.

But a woman named Lisa says Shurtleff didn't care when a raid was conducted at her home at the behest of the attorney general's office.

The raid, by the Midvale Police Department, occurred in May 2001. Lisa, who wants her last name withheld because her complaint against the A.G.'s office is still pending, said the officers came into her home at gunpoint, pepper-sprayed her 18-year-old son and threw her 16-year-old son to the ground.

They entered the bedroom, pointed seven loaded guns at Lisa and her 2-year-old daughter and told Lisa to drop the child.

The raid, which was written about several years ago in the online investigative journal Accountability Utah and prompted then-state legislator Matthew Throckmorton to call for an investigation.

The Division of Child and Family Services was investigating allegations of medical neglect stemming from Lisa's 7-year-old son's juvenile diabetes.

DCFS had removed the boy and placed him in foster care, where his condition deteriorated, according to Accountability Utah and an affidavit Lisa gave in a court case. The raid, conducted later, was to remove the boy's little sister, even though she had no medical condition and there was no evidence she was in any danger.

Lisa contends much of her troubles were due to rogue investigators and an overly aggressive assistant in the A.G.'s office.

When she confronted Shurtleff about the aggressive nature of his assistants and the over-the-top raid that terrorized her family, he told her he would look into it and get back to her.

He never did, she said.

Lisa is not the only one shouting double standard on Shurtleff.

Washington Post blogger Radley Balko responded to Shurtleff's complaints with a column headlined "Aggressive police raids for thee, but not for me."

"It's amazing," Balko wrote, "how quickly a politician can change his position when he becomes a victim of aggressive government policies he previously supported."

He referred to a Shurtleff task force that sent armed police to raid businesses suspected of employing undocumented workers. The officers also went after people suspected of having pirated CDs at the urging of a lobbyist organization, the Recording Industry Association of America, which gave Shurtleff an award for his efforts.

Constitutional attorney Jonathan Turley similarly criticized Shurtleff's alleged hypocrisy in his blog, noting that the then-attorney general condoned aggressive tactics used against his clients, the polygamist Brown family, in the "Sister Wives" case.




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