Body cam shows San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office raid of home in fireworks investigation
A San Joaquin County family is calling on the sheriff’s office to answer questions about why and how they raided the family’s Ripon home Wednesday, with guns drawn and shields up, and children inside.
“Over the PA, they were saying, ‘Come out with your hands up with no weapons,” said Nicole McCurdy, who experienced the ordeal alongside her 3-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter. “I want to know why they had to use, why they had to point guns at me and my children. I would have answered the door.”
McCurdy said the family throws an annual Fourth of July party, complete with a fireworks show. McCurdy said they have ordered their Safe and Sane fireworks online, like in years past, and did not believe they were doing anything wrong in ordering, storing or planning to use them.
“For the last three years, we’ve gotten the fireworks from the same place, online, same types of foundations and none of the big ones,” she said.
Ripon is one of the state's communities that permits state-approved fireworks. Safe and Sane fireworks also must include the State Fire Marshal's Safe and Sane Seal. They are permitted to be sold from June 28 through July 6, according to documentation.
McCurdy said she wholeheartedly believed they were purchasing appropriate fireworks but, separately, is concerned about the deputies’ response in their investigation of them.
Declining an interview Friday, a spokesperson for the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office released a statement, reading in part: "The search warrant stemmed from an ongoing investigation of an illegal fireworks operation that was connected to the home. Deputies had to take necessary precautions due to knowledge of criminal history and firearms in the home."
The post stated that the office had received complaints from some county residents and that “the video and images being circulated also don't depict the professional interactions deputies had with both the adults and children once they rendered the home safe.”
For McCurdy’s husband, Michael Schirmer, he said watching the Ring video of his family with their hands up is deeply upsetting.
“You can’t help them,” he said, recalling the video. “It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to watch. And every time I see it, it kills me."
Schirmer said he’s still “really upset” over the response and the tactics used. He said it may be appropriate in other situations with perhaps more volatile subjects or situations, but that it was inappropriate for the situation.
“I think there could have been a much easier approach. I think they used far too many resources,” he said. “They could have just knocked on the door and came right in.”
He also said the family dogs were hurt in the process. Schirmer said the puppy and senior dogs did not go after responding officers but were shot at.
The sheriff’s office statement released also stated: “Further, to clarify, the deputies were forced to deploy less lethal after their dog tried to attack them; deputies offered to get the dog veterinarian care which the family declined.”
The family disputed many of the details included in the sheriff’s office statement.
A spokesperson for the office said the office planned to release more information and body camera footage of the incident in the coming days.