North Carolina Deputies Raid Wrong Home

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 1 month ago

Times-News Burlington:

The Burlington police officer who obtained a search warrant for the wrong house in a drug investigation was present when the warrant was executed, but wasn’t able to stop deputies before they entered the house, police officials said Tuesday.

Burlington Police Chief Jeffrey Smythe called into Talkline, a local morning radio show on AM station WBAG, on Tuesday to discuss the incident, which occurred April 4 at a Mebane house outside of the police department’s jurisdiction, thus requiring the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office to execute the warrant.

Though the Times-News previously tried to get information from police on where Officer R.D. Hebden, who obtained the warrant, was while deputies entered the wrong house, Smythe explained on the radio show that the officer was present but was in the last of four cars to pull up to the site.

Smythe said sheriff’s deputies had already entered the house, located at 3264 Maplewood Ave., before Hebden could inform the ACSO lieutenant overseeing the operation that he had put the wrong address on the warrant, but that the officer immediately did so.

On the show, Smythe admitted the Burlington Police Department accepts the blame for the error, and mentioned that he had already apologized multiple times to the two residents of the house.

“It was due to a mistake on our officer’s part,” said Assistant Chief Chris Verdeck. “We’ve repeatedly apologized for our mistake and are investigating it thoroughly, internally, to try to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

The Sheriff’s Office has maintained that its deputies acted properly, and followed normal procedure for entering a residence at the address listed on a search warrant — which included a team of nine deputies from the vice and special operations units who went inside the house with guns drawn, ordering the residents on the ground and handcuffing them, said Randy Jones, public information officer.

Jones said one of the deputies carried a shotgun, one carried an AR-15 assault rifle and the others carried handguns. He said deputies knocked on the back door and announced their presence multiple times, to no response, before ramming through the door.

Once inside, the residents were ordered to get down and were both handcuffed while deputies conducted a walkthrough to ensure no one else was inside. He said once the scene was secured, Lt. Brandon Wilkerson, of the sheriff’s office, began to question whether they were at the correct location and went out to confer with Hebden.

The mistake of address on the search warrant was a result of Hebden selecting the wrong parcel while using an Alamance County geographic information system, said Lt. Brian Long, of the Burlington Police Department.

“Entered the wrong home …,” “apologized …,” “no response …,” and so on the clinically worded prose goes.  But there is nothing clinical about this.  Nine law enforcement officers crushed in a door and pointed weapons at innocent victims, thus endangering their lives, all over a mistaken address.

As a sidebar comment, if one of my readers does something like this, you would get charged with assault, reckless endangerment and brandishing a weapon.  And properly so.  But my readers wouldn’t do this.  They would ensure proper muzzle discipline at all times when in possession of a weapon.

The solution isn’t more apologies or radio talk shows.  The solution is to find another way to obtain evidence in criminal investigations that doesn’t involve ramming doors in or pointing weapons at people.  Note to LEOs: I couldn’t care less if you lose some of your evidence.  Use your heads and find another way.

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Comments

  1. On April 23, 2014 at 10:30 pm, Rob Crawford said:

    Asking a government employee to use their brain is like asking a giraffe to use its fins.

  2. On April 23, 2014 at 11:51 pm, Steve Bragg said:

    One day, “wrong address” LEOs are going to shot breaking into a citizens’ home by a homeowner is merely defending his/her family. And the LEOs will be getting what they deserve.

  3. On April 24, 2014 at 5:20 pm, robscottw said:

    It has already happened. See my post above.

  4. On April 24, 2014 at 8:11 am, Paul B said:

    This happens much to often. we need to break the only ones mantra that police are using to train with now. that and the perception that drug dealers are dangerous to anyone more than themselves.

    Maybe in the next version of America we will get it right. We sure did not get it right in the last one.

  5. On April 24, 2014 at 5:15 pm, robscottw said:

    I know of at least 2 instances in which police officers got killed doing this. RyanFrederick in VA and Corey Mayes in Mississippi.

    Frederick was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and got 10 years (Radley Balko wrote extensively about this case on his blog at theagitator.com). Frederick had been burgled just a few days before and there is evidence to suggest the burgler was a police informant who then cliamed that Frederick was growing pot in the garage (which was a detached building). Because Ryan worked early he went to bed early and the police came to his door at 8pm (i think) and when he didn’t answer fast enough started breaking in thru the door. Ryan fired a .380 (purchased just days before in response to the burglary) and caught the officer sideways (so his vest didn’t protect him) as the officer crawled thru the lower part of the door.

    Corey Mayes (Balko wrote extensively about this case also and was instrumental in helping him gain a new trial) was in the 2nd unit of a duplex when police raided the other one for pot (I think). Evidently not realizing Corey’s unit was seperate officers barged into his too where he was sleeping with his infant daughter. Awoken from sleep Corey too fired at the intruders killing one officer. Cory (who is black) got life (or a long sentence anyway) but after about 10 years was granted a new trial and prosecutors declined to try him again because it was pretty obviously a case of reasonable self-defense.

    Both Ryan and Corey immediately surrendered after police finally identified themselves and neither were charged with any other crimes than the killings (Cory did have a small joint i think).

    Besides the injustice of these 2 innocents going to jail, and the deaths of 2 evidently fine police officers, the sad part is that the cop community doesn’t want to learn from these mistakes. Read the policeone blogs about these cases and nearly all the officers want to double down on the stupidity of the way many of these raids are carried out.

    They would rather play Rambo than engage in old fashioned police work, like approaching the subjects away from the house first and realizing that hydroponic pot growing operations can’t be flushed down the toilet which obviates the need for “dynamic” raids. That of course is over and above simply getting the address right and knowing exactly what and who you are trying to apprehend etc. Oh, and their attitudes towards Ryan and Corey. They call them “cop-killers” whereas before the cops made stupid mistakes Ryan and Corey were normal law-abiding citizens. But the cops have no sympathy for them.

  6. On April 24, 2014 at 6:29 pm, Josh said:

    Good writeup. I can’t go to PoliceOne. My blood pressure rises and the rage flows through me. If that forum is anything but a representation of a subculture within the community, we’re all in for a lot of pain.

  7. On April 25, 2014 at 5:00 pm, robscottw said:

    update, Ryan did get a pot conviction out of it too, $500 fine.

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This article is filed under the category(s) Police and was published April 23rd, 2014 by Herschel Smith.

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