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June 17, 2007

Another Botched Police Raid

by Doug Mataconis

Via Radley Balko comes news of yet another botched police raid isolated incident:

Law-enforcement officers raided the wrong house and forced a 77-year-old La Plata County woman on oxygen to the ground last week in search of methamphetamine.

The raid occurred about 11 a.m. June 8, as Virginia Herrick was settling in to watch “The Price is Right.” She heard a rustling outside her mobile home in Durango West I and looked out to see several men with gas masks and bulletproof vests, she said.

Herrick went to the back door to have a look.

“I thought there was a gas leak or something,” she said.

But before reaching the door, La Plata County Sheriff’s deputies shouted “search warrant, search warrant” and barged in with guns drawn, she said. They ordered Herrick to the ground and began searching the home.

“They didn’t give me a chance to ask for a search warrant or see a search warrant or anything,” she said in a phone interview Thursday. “I’m not about to argue with those big old guys, especially when they’ve got guns and those big old sledgehammers.”

La Plata County Sheriff Duke Schirard and Southwest Drug Task Force Director Lt. Rick Brown confirmed Herrick’s story.

Some deputies stayed with Herrick as others searched the house. They entered every bedroom and overturned a mattress in her son’s room.

Deputies asked Herrick if she knew a certain man, and she said no. Then they asked what address they were at, and she told them 74 Hidden Lane.

Deputies intended to raid 82 Hidden Lane – the house next door.

While Herrick was on the ground, deputies began placing handcuffs on her. They cuffed one wrist and were preparing to cuff the other.

In other words, they knew, or should’ve known that they were at the wrong house:

Herrick’s son, David Herrick, said investigators surveilled the neighbor’s house before the raid, and it was extremely unprofessional to enter the wrong house.

“There is a big difference between 74 and 82,” he said, referring to the house numbers.

What’s more, Herrick doesn’t understand why his 77-year-old mother was handcuffed.

“Why they thought it was necessary to handcuff her and put her on the floor I don’t know,” he said. “And then they had to ask her what the address was.”

Brown said it is common practice to make all occupants lie on the ground handcuffed in case gunfire erupts.

“It’s just safe for everybody if they’re controlled on the ground,” he said.

David Herrick said he has contacted lawyers about a possible lawsuit.

“It’s pretty upsetting that they do that to a 77-year-old,” he said. “A little common sense, I think, would have helped out on the problem a lot.”

Virginia Herrick said she is glad her meth-dealing neighbors are gone, but also said: “I’m still angry at the whole situation. For them to raid the wrong trailer was not very smart.”

Because, of course, she just looks like a drug runner


Permalink || Comments (8) || Categories: Police Watch
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8 Comments

  1. Thanks. The number of botched raids is appalling. And we already know the result of what will happen from this one. Nothing. Lesson learned peons, now go back to sleep.

    Comment by Me — June 17, 2007 @ 3:50 pm
  2. It’s awful. At least they didn’t taser her before asking her questions, then taser her more when she didn’t (read couldn’t) answer. That is become as common as these stupid no-knock raid errors.

    Comment by Gex — June 17, 2007 @ 5:49 pm
  3. [...] June 18th, 2007 [link][more] [...]

    Pingback by Another Botched Police Raid « Veronica’s Lore — June 17, 2007 @ 8:00 pm
  4. Why does everybody hate the police? Statistically, they can’t get it right all the time. Yes, it’s unfortunate that they got the wrong house. But by all accounts, Ms. Herrick was not harmed. I just can’t see the Herricks winning the lawsuit. And no, people are not tasered as soon as a door is kicked in.

    Comment by Bob Ramirez — June 17, 2007 @ 9:34 pm
  5. People are sick of hearing about things like this happening almost every day. Yes, police are human and make mistakes — but my daily mistake tends to be a lot less extreme: today I accidentally put orange juice in my cornflakes. I didn’t barge into an old lady’s house, force her to the ground, cuff her, etc. When I make a serious mistake on the job, my boss holds me accountable. When police make serious mistakes on the job they are often not held accountable. To say that Mrs. Herrick was not harmed is a lame argument. She was frightened, humiliated and had her privacy invaded/home searched unnecessarily by cops who DIDN’T HAVE A SEARCH WARRANT FOR HER HOME. The point of search warrants is to ensure cops don’t abuse their power by invading the privacy of innocent people.If cops can go into someone’s home and search the place without a proper warrant and then simply say, “Oops, sorry. Wrong house.”, and get away with it, it makes having a warrant a little less important. Which undermines the US Constitution.
    In my opinion, these bunglers should be held accountable for their mistakes just like anybody in the private sector would be. Not to hold them accountable weakens the protections afforded to us by the US Constitution against unlawful search and seizure.

    Comment by Because Some Cops Are Idiots — June 18, 2007 @ 2:56 am
  6. Bob R, you are either extremely under-informed, or an apologist for grossly abused police powers.

    I suggest that you read the relevant posts (there are several in each) from the weblogs

    The Agitator (Randy Balko) – http://www.theagitator.com/

    and Pro Libertate (William Grigg) -
    http://freedominourtime.blogspot.com/

    I think it is safe to say that neither of these two men hate ALL police, they post abuse stories in an attempt to ensure the police, who are paid BY US, and are supposed to PROTECT us, do not step over the line.

    Comment by Tom Gellhaus — June 18, 2007 @ 7:28 am
  7. This is terrible. Poor old lady. They should get their facts straight before they start destroying someones home.

    Comment by Radical Times — June 19, 2007 @ 11:33 am
  8. Bob Ramirez is either a dumass cop or a fag. Obiously you have never encountered a cop with a chip on his/her shoulder. They have every reason to bully and abuse a person reguardless of what the situation is. This family should sue the crap out of these IDIOTS.

    Comment by Smartie — June 26, 2007 @ 9:28 pm

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