Crime

Rose Ann Santistevan, grandmother, sues over drug raid that gave her heart attack

Rose Ann Santistevan hardly fits the profile of a drug kingpin. She's 71 years old and suffers from emphysema. So when police burst into her home as part of a narcotics investigation dubbed Operation Jeez Luis, she did what anyone in her position would do: She had a heart attack. Fortunately, she recovered -- and she's in good enough condition to sue the cops over the incident. According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, Operation Jeez Luis was named by investigators for Luis Angel "Trick" Vega, a suspect in a drug network whose tapped cell phone proved key to busting a crime ring associated with La Familia and the Sureños street gang.

In October 2009, after a reported seven-month-long investigation, assorted law-enforcement agencies announced the seizure of more than $300,000 worth of meth, plus some cocaine, marijuana and mushrooms. Authorities also arrested at least fifteen people allegedly associated with the scheme, two of them with the surname Santistevan: Kirt Santistevan and Demetrius Santistevan. The Gazette identified them as Rose Ann's son and grandson.

That didn't necessarily mean everyone with the name Santistevan was involved, however -- and even as the cops were celebrating their Operation Jeez Luis success, they acknowledged that their raid at Rose Ann's home, on the 200 block of South Prospect Street, had unforeseen consequences.

At the time, Rose Ann, then 69, was reportedly in bed receiving oxygen when a SWAT team stormed in, preceded by a flash-bang grenade that prompted the aforementioned heart attack. Rose Ann was rushed to a nearby hospital, where she stayed for several days afterward.

In the meantime, the cops searched her home, turning up no drugs and making no arrests.

The El Paso County Sheriff's Department continues to defend the raid. But Rose Ann's complaint calls the officers' actions "extreme, unreasonable and outrageous." She's suing for medical expenses and more.

Jeez Luis!

More from our News archive: "Martinez family lawsuit: Members of Mexican band say Denver cops mistakenly beat them."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts