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Life Inside

I ‘Stood My Ground’ — but It Was the Police Raiding My House

Diamonds Ford thought she was shooting at an intruder when Florida cops raided her home without knocking. Then she was charged with attempted murder.

An illustration shows shattered glass with images inside of the shards. The images are SWAT team officers entering in an apartment, pieces of glass on top of a bed, and a Black woman crouching on the floor with her hands over her head.

One morning in September 2020, I woke up to the sound of glass shattering. My first thought was: Someone is breaking into my house. It was around 8 a.m., but it felt like the middle of the night because we had blackout curtains. My daughter, who was 11, had spent that night at a friend’s house, and I’m so thankful she wasn’t there.

My boyfriend, Anthony, was still asleep, and I woke him up. He reached for my gun, but when he didn’t move fast enough, I grabbed it and started shooting toward the windows. I couldn’t see who I was shooting at because of the curtains.

A week before this, I’d bought a Glock 39 at a gun show. It was my first firearm. I was living in a cheap rental, in an area where you hear about a lot of crime, and I was working a lot of late nights as a pharmacy technician. In a gun class, I’d been taught to store it unloaded, but I thought, Sorry, where I live, I need to keep it loaded.

After I shot all the bullets, I dropped the gun. Anthony and I shut ourselves in the bathroom with our dog. It sounded like World War III outside. One of us had a cellphone, and I called 911. “Someone is shooting,” I told the operator.

In the recording of the call, you can hear me ask, “Are we going to die?” Then the operator asks, “Do you know who is shooting?”

Before I could answer him, I heard deputies with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office asking me to come out with my hands up. I immediately felt low-key relieved. But I say “low-key” because my next thought was, Wait, why are ya’ll here?

I shouted, “Hey, hold on, wait, wait, wait!” There was a loud bang and I screamed. I came out of the bathroom slowly and dropped my phone — I didn’t want them to think it was a gun. There was some kind of gas and I started coughing.

“You got the wrong house,” I said.

The Marshall Project · Diamonds Ford 911 Call

Diamonds Ford’s 911 call from Sept. 28, 2020. Please note that this content may be distressing to some listeners.

Once I got to the front door, I saw the officers hitting Anthony. They acknowledged this in reports, claiming he was resisting them. Someone handcuffed me and took me to a police car. I was just wearing a T-shirt and boxers, so the officer in the car gave me a blanket. He told me that some of my bullets had hit an officer. I said I was sorry and that I respect officers and this was all a mistake.

After I talked to more officers in an interrogation room, I went to a holding cell. A couple of hours later, someone came to my cell, and I remember the calmness in their voice when they told me I was being charged: “Attempted murder of a law enforcement officer.” I could end up in prison for life.

My mother found a lawyer named Stephen Kelly. He started gathering documents from the case. We learned that the local sheriff’s office was serving a warrant for the Drug Enforcement Administration. A confidential informant had said a family member of my boyfriend was selling drugs out of the house.

But this intel was from months earlier, and it’s not clear from the records if the police knew my daughter and I lived there. I was also doing women’s eyelashes from the house, so they’d probably seen some people come and go. We had a roommate, and they found around 125 grams of marijuana in his room, but they only found 0.07 gram in mine, and that’s all I was charged for having.

I was in jail for more than four months. My case got some social media attention, and an organizer named Danielle Chanzes worked with her group Dignity Power to raise money to get me out of jail on bond. Six months before my arrest, police in Louisville, Kentucky, had killed Breonna Taylor during a raid where police did not announce themselves. In my case, they claimed they’d announced themselves before breaking the window. But I was asleep. I’m not the type to go to war against cops. I remember one officer asked me why I didn’t reload, and I thought, I don’t really know how! This isn’t Call of Duty!

While in the jail, I felt so much anxiety, especially when there were loud noises, like doors closing or officers banging on the walls. Once I was out, my lawyer and I planned to file a stand-your-ground claim in court. We talked about how if you’re a Black woman you’re not allowed to defend your “castle,” as the law puts it. To be honest, I don’t think I would have been arrested if I’d been a White man.

But over the next couple of years, the state’s case seemed to get weaker. We had my 911 call, in which you can tell I didn’t know it was the police. One of the officers involved in the raid was himself arrested for drug trafficking. He pleaded not guilty, but it would have affected his ability to testify credibly in my case.

Finally, in November 2023, prosecutors dropped the charges against Anthony and me. It was a relief, but it hasn’t ended all the effects this had on my life. While the charges were over my head for three years, I couldn’t work in pharmacies, so I relied on my family to stay afloat, which was hard on my sense of independence. Eventually, I went back to school for cosmetology, so I can do hair, and I now plan to return to my pharmacy technician work.

While I was in jail, my daughter would cry over the phone and ask when I was coming home. Now she never wants to leave my side, to go out and play with her friends. I know she’s scared something could happen to me again. I’m still paranoid, constantly worrying the police are about to pull me over and shoot me. I’ve found myself obsessively reading about Breonna Taylor’s death, and thinking it could have been me. I do hope telling my story contributes to this not happening again.

And I keep wondering: What laws do we need so this doesn’t happen to someone else?

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office did not respond to an emailed request for comment. The State Attorney Office for the Fourth Judicial Circuit sent a statement summarizing the decision to forgo prosecution. The raid was legal, prosecutors said, and Ford and Anthony Gantt may have known about past drug sales at the residence. But the subsequent arrests of officers raised questions about the police work that led to the raid, and would make it difficult to prevail in a trial. “But for these arrests, the prosecution would have continued,” spokesperson David Chapman wrote in an email. Asked about the role of race in the case, he added, “Race did not play a role in this charging decision, nor does it in any charging decision made by this office — only the evidence of the case and applicable law is considered.”

Maurice Chammah Twitter Email is a staff writer and host of the podcast “Just Say You're Sorry,” as well as the author of “Let the Lord Sort Them: The Rise and Fall of the Death Penalty.” He writes narrative features on a range of criminal justice subjects, including the death penalty, forensics and art and music by incarcerated people.