The mother of an 11-year-old boy abducted by SWAT team members and taken to a hospital after he was bruised while horsing around is warning members of her community of the “Nazi” tactics she endured, including a statement from the officers that her “rights” were “only in the movies.”
The case involves Jon Shiflett, who injured himself while trying to grab the handle of a door on a car his sister was driving. He slipped and fell to the pavement, hitting his head. His parents treated him for the injury and rejected paramedics’ demands that they be allowed to take him to a hospital.
Nearly 36 hours later, SWAT team members broke into the family home in western Colorado near New Castle and took Jon to a hospital, where a doctor said the family should keep ice on his bruise, exactly the treatment the family already had been providing.
Tina Shiflett, Jon’s mother, has written a letter to the editor to a local newspaper, the Post Independent, “to awaken, alert and appall any who read it and hear the bells ringing.”
“A fully armed SWAT team broke into our home, slammed my children to the floor face down with their hands behind their backs and shoved a gun in my daughter’s face and handcuffed her…” her letter said.
In a separate letter to WND, she elaborated a little more fully.
During the attack, she wrote, “One (officer) grabbed my daughter Beth (18 years), who also had a gun to her face, slammed her down and kneed her in the back and held her in that position… My sons Adam (14) and Noah (only 7) lay down willingly, yet they were still forced to put their hands behind their backs and were yelled at to keep their heads down.
“My daughter Jeanette was coming out from the back bedroom when she was grabbed, drug down the hallway, across a couch and slammed to the ground,” she said. “The officers then began throwing scissors and screwdrivers across the room (out of our reach, I suppose) and going through our cupboards.
“I asked if I could make a phone call and was told, ‘no.’ My daughter asked if that wasn’t one of our rights. The reply was made, ‘That’s only in the movies,’” she told WND.
It was some unidentified person, possibly a paramedic who had been refused permission to take Jon Shiflett to the hospital as she wanted, who provided information last week that convinced a magistrate to issue a court order that Jon be taken into state custody and examined by a doctor.
He was taken by SWAT team members dispatched by the sheriff to the family’s home at 11 p.m. at night, and they punched a hole in the front door and held guns on other children in the family in order to take Jon.
“The armed men in black masks took my terrified son against his wishes to Grand River Hospital, where he was examined by a doctor and interrogated by Social Services. No evidence was found that he had not been properly taken care of. Upon his return, we were told to keep ice on his head,” Tina Shiflett’s letter to the editor said.
“To the SWAT Team members … how far will you go in ‘just doing your job?’ If you feel no guilt busting into an innocent family’s home, traumatizing young children and stomping the security found therein, will you follow more horrific orders?” she wrote.
“May I remind you that in Nazi Germany, outrageous, monstrous crimes were committed by soldiers ‘just doing their job?’ What will be next? Where will this stop?” she wrote.
“Fathers, mothers, families and countrymen, I challenge you to consider our story and ask yourself the question, ‘If this were my family, what would I do?’ For it very well could be you … next!”
Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario told WND he simply ordered his officers to do exactly what the magistrate demanded.
“I was given a court order by the magistrate to seize the child, and arrange for medical evaluation, and that’s what we did,” he said.
The situation developed at the Apple Tree Mobile Home Park near New Castle last week when Jon Shiflett was horsing around and fell. Tom Shiflett carried his son home and put an ice pack on his head, while examining him to see whether his mental faculties were there. The boy correctly recited Bible verses and spelled words, the parents told WND.
But paramedics were called by a neighbor, and when they arrived, Tom Shiflett let them see his son, but refused their demands that he be taken to a hospital. The paramedics then apparently lobbied the city police, the sheriff’s office, social workers and eventually the magistrate in order to get their way in having Jon taken to a hospital.
Jim Bradford, a court clerk in Garfield County, said it was a juvenile matter and he could not comment on any aspect of the case, and he declined to allow WND to leave a message for Garfield County Magistrate Lain Leoniak, who signed the order.
But participants in a forum at the Rocky Mountain News, which carried reports subsequent to the WND report, seemed to agree with Tina Shiflett.
Wrote ItsJustMe, “Welcome to the coming socialist police state.”
Said “mrNiceGuy,” “Police man shoots man in heart at a distant range, is not charged. Police cover up the events that proceed (sic) the death of someone in their custody, no one is charged. Police enter wrong apartment and shoot an unarmed man thinking a can is a weapon, no charges filed. But a kid bumps his head and his parents deem him to be ok – knock the door in and start cuffing people.”
“I cannot describe the feeling of having your child abducted, taken from your care, not knowing what will happen to him, and if he will ever be returned back into your arms again,” Tina Shiflett wrote in the separate letter to WND. “I record this by my own hand in hopes of awakening anyone who would read it to the injustice of our police depart (sic), social services and court system. But above all to glorify my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, whose reign is supreme over all this earth…”
The letter clarifies that the family did, indeed, cooperate with officers who arrived about 11 p.m. on that night.
“Between 10 and 11 … a sheriff came to the door. My husband met him at the window and he began to question my husband. My husband spoke with him and answered all his questions. The sheriff then said if Tom would just let him speak with Jonathan (our 11 yr. old son) this whole matter (story following) would be closed,” she documented.
“Tom said, ‘You are saying, ‘If I let you speak to Jonathan this whole matter will be closed.?’ Then Tom called for Jonathan to come to the window,” she said.
“As soon as Jonathan was visible to the sheriff, a SWAT team appeared shining lights on Jon’s face and others were bashing at the door with a ramming device. My daughter resisted and pushed against the door to stop them as she didn’t know who they were. I told her to back up and not try to fight them. They then entered our home, held a gun to my daughter’s face and others of them, five or more, rushed into the living room and physically forced my other children to the ground.”
“We were told Jonathan would be taken to a hospital near us for evaluation, and then questioned by the human resources. At this point Jonathan was scared, crying and shaking. We asked if we could accompany him, or follow them to the hospital. We were warned not to try to follow him or come to the hospital or criminal charges would be pressed against us.
“Our son was returned to us at 2:30 a.m. Saturday morning. In all this was not one shred of evidence found that we had done anything wrong or that Jon had not been properly cared for at home,” she said.
“what the?” was KarlSpackler’s comment on a forum at the Denver Post.
And “mamm354″ added, “Whoever it was that gave the order to do this should be thrown in jail. Illegal assaults on our privacy is why we need the second ammendment. I don’t see the police being this agressive against illegal aliens but they approach their work with this level of zest against citizens!?!?! Heads should roll for this.”
Lynn Rennick, the social services director in Garfield County, has said her office is required to intervene when it receives a report about “possible mistreatment” of children, but she didn’t comment on any such report in this case, who may have filed it, or what it might have said.
A spokeswoman for WestCare Ambulance, which reportedly responded to the call, also refused to answer any questions about the case, saying all issues were considered patient confidentiality issues.
Ross Talbott, the owner of the Apple Tree Mobile Home Park who rents to the Shifletts, called the SWAT team actions “gross irresponsibility and stupidity.”
“Is this Russia? I don’t know what we’re coming to when they think your kid needs medical help and they send a SWAT team,” he said.
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