A sensational lawsuit that looked as if police in Anaheim and Fontana were going to have difficulties explaining why they aggressively raided the wrong Anaheim Hills residence in March 2014 fizzled out this month inside Orange County's Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse.
Attorney Joel Baruch, who represented raid victims Daniel and Kathleen Nunley, told OC Weekly he filed for dismissal after learning a key witness provided him wrong information, a discovery undermining his belief that police falsified facts to obtain a search warrant in the commercial burglary case.
The lawsuit won national attention because a police SWAT team and helicopter unit attacked the Nunley's residence in hopes of finding a laptop computer stolen in Fontana.
According to court records, the victim of the theft told authorities a GPS “ping” from the computer placed it inside the residence at 543 Eveningsong Lane.
But police obtained a search warrant for a neighboring house: 539 Eveningsong, home of the Nunleys, who were shocked and humiliated by the raid.
According to Baruch, though the ping came from 543 Eveningsong, the theft victim had conducted a stakeout before notifying authorities of his discovery and, despite the electronic signal location, wrongly identified an innocent Nunley as the possible perpetrator whose crime and getaway vehicle had been captured on video.
But that wasn't the initial story Baruch received.
“In a signed statement, the victim told me that he told the police Nunley did not fit the description [of the thief as seen in the footage],” said the Irvine-based lawyer, who relied on the statement to file the lawsuit.
His final upshot: Though Nunley is entirely innocent, the botched identification means “the Fontana police were truthful when obtaining the search warrant.”
Baruch's dismissal was accepted by U.S. District Court Judge Andrew J. Guilford, who closed the file.
CNN-featured investigative reporter R. Scott Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; obtained one of the last exclusive prison interviews with Charles Manson disciple Susan Atkins; won inclusion in Jeffrey Toobin’s The Best American Crime Reporting for his coverage of a white supremacist’s senseless murder of a beloved Vietnamese refugee; launched multi-year probes that resulted in the FBI arrests and convictions of the top three ranking members of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department; and gained praise from New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing entrenched Southern California law enforcement corruption.