On July 31, 2021, the Chinook Center and other activist organizations helped to organize a march to bring awareness to the housing crisis in Colorado Springs. The Colorado Springs Police Department (CSPD) had been spying on activists in the region for several years and planned to make arrests at the march. CSPD did, in fact, arrest leaders of the Chinook Center. Jacqueline Armendariz was walking her bicycle in the march when she saw police tackling a Chinook Center leader, and saw another police officer in riot gear running towards her. She dropped her bicycle, and the officer—untouched—continued towards the protesters. 

After the protest, CSPD officers obtained warrants to (1) arrest Armendariz for allegedly attempting to assault an officer by dropping her bicycle and (2) search her home and seize all of her digital devices. After seizing Armendariz’s devices, CSPD obtained another warrant to search all of the seized devices for words like “cop,” “protest,” “human,” and “rights.” The warrant also authorized the seizure of nearly all categories of data that could be found on a device for a period of more than two months, so long as the data was “determined to be relevant” to an unspecified investigation. CSPD also obtained a warrant to seize all Facebook Messenger chats tied to the Chinook Center’s Facebook profile, along with all subscriber information, Facebook posts, and Facebook events tied to the profile. All of these warrants failed to comply with the Fourth Amendment’s probable cause and particularity requirements—which are applied with “scrupulous exactitude” when warrants implicate activities protected by the First Amendment. The warrants did not specify any crime for which evidence would be found in the searches, left officers with unfettered discretion to rummage through vast amounts of private digital data, and authorized the search and seizure of items for which there was no probable cause. Since the warrants were executed, all charges against Armendariz have been dropped. Yet the CSPD and the FBI (which helped extract the data from Armendariz’s devices) continue to retain Armendariz’s data without justification.

Plaintiffs Armendariz and Chinook sued in federal court, claiming that the officers who drafted and approved the unconstitutional search warrants violated the state and federal constitutions and the Stored Communications Act. They also sued the City of Colorado Springs for its custom, policy, and practice of using unconstitutional search warrants to retaliate against protesters and sending the message that people who organize and speak out about causes the CSPD disfavors will be met with incredibly invasive searches. Finally, Plaintiffs claimed that they are entitled to an injunction requiring the City and the FBI to return or delete their copies of Armendariz’s devices.


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"ACLU Sues City and Four CSPD Officers Over 'Unjustified Search Warrants'", CO Springs Indy, August 1, 2023

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Timothy R. Macdonald, Mark Silverstein, Sara R. Neel, Anna I. Kurtz, and Laura Moraff

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

Jacqueline V. Roeder, Theresa Wardon Benz, Kylie L. Ngu, and Elise Reecer of Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP

Date filed

August 1, 2023


U.S. District of Colorado


Charlotte N. Sweeney and Magistrate Maritza Dominguez Braswell



Case number