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Search warrant secrets

Register • Nov 23, 2014 at 10:48 AM

Huron County sheriff's deputies and police officers from some surrounding communities who executed a search warrant at a Norwalk home March 25 likely had the best of intentions when they set about their task. 

But something went wrong — before, during and after — delivering the search warrant to John Collins, 26, in one of the three units in the triplex home at 114 Benedict Ave. in Norwalk.


Deputies had bad information before they executed the search warrant because Collins was not the person they were expecting to be there and not the individual named in the warrant. 


Deputies handcuffed Collins and pushed him to the floor face down during the operation, leaving him there and ransacking his home despite his protests they had the wrong guy and the wrong home. Collins said some of the deputies recognized him from their school days but still did nothing to fix the fix they'd gotten themselves into by busting into Collins home with a bad warrant.  


And after the raid, sheriff's Capt. Ted Patrick was unable to provide a coherent explanation for any of the actions that occurred, referring to questions about the raid as a "rumor" in an apparent effort to dismiss Collins' complaint without ever having to address it. 



No mistakes were made, and the search warrant was executed at the correct address, Patrick insisted. Sheriff Dane Howard later agreed, but both still offered nothing to address the concerns raised by Collins and the misstatements made by Patrick.


The search warrant was sealed under a secret gag order from the court, and the raid that occurred at Collins home failed to protect his basic rights in a variety of other ways. The Norwalk Police Department, the agency with jurisdiction in the city, also wasn't involved or apparently even notified of the operation.


Patrick and Huron County Sheriff Dane Howard can insist whatever they want to insist. But just because they say it is so doesn't make it so, and the secret operation, the secret mistakes that might have occurred and the secret search warrant do nothing to bolster confidence in the legitimacy of this operation.   

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