1054 West 300 South is an empty shell. Everything has been removed from the house. What hasn’t been thrown away can been seen sitting stacked on the carport. What cannot be seen is the invisible layer of chemical dust that has contaminated the house and everything in it.
SWAT officers fired ten “Triple Chaser” continuous discharge grenades into the house the morning of January 5.
They were executing a no-knock search warrant a judge had just given them. The warrant’s affidavit shows police believed Roberto Miramontes Roman was inside. He was their prime suspect in the shooting death of Millard County Sheriffs Deputy Josie Fox.
Police also believed Roman had an AK-47 and AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifles.
“And everyone said thereare large caliber rounds involved in this. They shoot right through homes,right through officers’ vests,” said Salt Lake Police Chief Chris Burbank.
The chief vigorously defended SWAT officers actions on that day, saying his men and women owed it to themselves and to the public to tale every precaution when they entered thehouse.
“It rose to the level that we said we’ve got to take some action and this is the appropriate action to take,” said the chief.
The chief adamantly pointed out the SWAT raid on the Miramontes’ home was not out of the ordinary and, in his opinion, was perfectly appropriate, considering the risk officers thought they were facing.
Roman was not in the house. Sheriff’s deputies found him in
“They went inside and destroyed everything,” said Salvia Miramontes.
She and her family are now living in a hotel room near their neighborhood, thanks to donations from generous neighbors. Their house, off limits, now that the Salt Lake Valley Health Department has declared it unfit for occupancy.
“Everything has to be lost,” said Sylvia Miramontes. “Furniture, food, cloths, all kind of stuff they touched, that has been touched by the powder.”
The powder is substance known as C-S, a micro fine dry chemical that has the same effect as tear gas on anyone who breathes it.
“Usually what you’d needis the to five milligrams to get half the people out of the building in one minute,” said Michael Rowzee, a former U.S. Army Chemical Warfare Specialist and the owner of the company contracted to decontaminate 1054 West 300 South.
Rowzee has also trained SWAT officers in the use of chemicals weapons such as C-S and tear gas grenades. He told ABC 4 one or two canisters of C-S would have done the job.
“That would have been normal,” he said.
Evidence at the scene and police memos reveal the SWAT officers fired ten canisters into the house. According to the manufacturer’s specifications manual, that’s at least 32 times more C-S than Rowzee says they needed.
“Dumping ten in from the get-go? What’s the objective,” attorney Joseph Jardine said, as he responded to ABC 4’s questions on whether he thought police acted negligently.
“It seems to me it’s negligence, probably even recklessness.”
Jardine agreed with several attorneys interviewed by ABC 4 who said they think the city should pay the Miramontes family for the damage done.
“Whether it was just busting down a door or burning the house down – either extreme – the city would be responsible, regardless.” Jardine said.
Meanwhile, the family will depend on the generosity of friends and neighbors for shelter.