Nearly a dozen members of a police SWAT team in western Colorado punched a hole in the front door and invaded a family's home with guns drawn, demanding that an 11-year-old boy who had had an accidental fall accompany them to the hospital, on the order of Garfield County Magistrate Lain Leoniak.
The boy's parents and siblings were thrown to the floor at gunpoint and the parents were handcuffed in the weekend assault, and the boy's father told WND it was all because a paramedic was upset the family preferred to care for their son themselves.
Someone, apparently the unidentified paramedic, called police, the sheriff's office and social services, eventually providing Leoniak with a report that generated the magistrate's court order to the sheriff's office for the SWAT team assault on the family's home in a mobile home development outside of Glenwood Springs, the father, Tom Shiflett, told WND.
The accident happened during horseplay, Tom Shiflett told WND. John was grabbing the door handle of a car as his sister was starting to drive away slowly. He slipped, fell to the ground and hit his head, Shiflett said.
He immediately carried his son into their home several doors away, and John was able to recite Bible verses and correctly spell words as his father and mother, Tina, requested. There were no broken bones, no dilated eyes, or any other noticeable problems.
The family, whose members live by faith and homeschool, decided not to call an ambulance. But a neighbor did call Westcare Ambulance, and paramedics responded to the home, asking to see and evaluate the boy.
The paramedics were allowed to see the boy, and found no significant impairment, but wanted to take him to the hospital for an evaluation anyway. Fearing the hospital's bills, the family refused to allow that.
"This apparently did not go over well with one of the paramedics and they started getting aggravated at Tom for not letting them have their way," a family acquaintance told WND.
"The paramedics were not at all respectful of Tom's decision, nor did they act in a manner we would expect from professional paramedics," the acquaintance said.
So the ambulance crew, who also could not be reached by WND, called police, only to be told the decision was up to the Shiflett familiy.
The paramedics then called the sheriff's office, and officers responded to the home, and were told everyone was being cared for.
Then the next day, Friday, social services workers appeared at the door and demanded to talk with John "in private."
They were so persistent Tom ended up having to get John out of the bathtub he was just soaking in, to bring him to the front porch where the social workers could see him, the family reported.
Then, following an afternoon shopping trip to town, the family settled in for the evening, only to be shocked with the SWAT team attack.
The sheriff said the decision to use SWAT team force was justified because the father was a "self-proclaimed constitutionalist" and had made threats and "comments" over the years.
However, the sheriff declined to provide a single instance of the father's illegal behavior. "I can't tell you specifically," he said.
"He was refusing to provide medical care," the sheriff said.
The sheriff also admitted that the injury to the child had been at least 24 hours earlier, because the fall apparently happened Thursday afternoon, and the SWAT attack happened late Friday evening.
Tm Shiflett said when John was evaluated by the physician, "they didn't find anything wrong with him."
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