Resident: Deputies search wrong home

Man says officers stormed his house, handcuffed him and forced him to the floor
Courtney Astolfi
Mar 31, 2014
A Benedict Avenue resident contends Huron County deputies forced their way into his home Tuesday without a search warrant.

John Collins, who lives in one unit of a triplex home at 114 Benedict Ave., contends deputies got the wrong address when they executed the search warrant. The warrant was for the unit next to his, he said.

The deputies handcuffed him and left him lying on the floor in his unit for 20 minutes after they realized the mistake, Collins said.  

Collins, 26, said he was watching TV when he heard someone yell, “Huron County Sheriff” outside his door.

“As soon as I stood up, they bum-rushed the door and threw me on the ground at gunpoint,” Collins said.

Read managing editor Matt Westerhold's Sunday column about the Huron County Sheriff' raid, Gag on it

They tore through his home, he said, after cuffing him and forcing him to the floor facedown.

“They searched my whole house, pulled stuff out my closet, broke a couple knick knacks” he said.

One deputy also stepped on his tablet, shattering its screen. Another broke a ceramic decoration that once belonged to his now-deceased son, Collins said.

Collins said he repeatedly told the deputies they had the wrong house.

“But they kept saying, ‘This is a drug house,’ and ‘You shouldn’t be in a drug house then’” Collins said.

Two deputies must have realized the mistake, Collins said, because they recognized him from their school days and had to have known he was not the man identified in the search warrant. The deputies went next door, he said. They made contact with the residents there — who were later arrested for drug trafficking.

But six or so other deputies continued searching Collins’ home.

“It was inhumane. I’m to the point where I’m scared and don’t want to be there by myself” Collins said.

After they’d been in his home for awhile, one deputy returned and told him he was under arrest and began reading him his rights, Collins said.

But just a short while later, they uncuffed him and apologized.

“Then they just left like it was nothing” Collins said.

Huron County Common Pleas Court Judge Timothy Cardwell issued a secret gag order March 21 to seal the search warrant. The gag order is also secret, Cardwell’s court clerk said after the Register asked for a copy of the order.

And the criminal complaint that was filed with the Huron County Sheriff’s Office also is secret.

The Register learned the search warrant was gagged after Huron County Sheriff’s Capt. Ted Patrick failed to deliver on assurances he made Thursday, when he said he would follow up on the Register’s requests for the initial complaints that led to the search warrant.

Incident reports and search warrants are generally public record that cannot be withheld from release.

“You send me a records request via email and I’ll be happy to get what you need,” Patrick said Thursday.

Patrick did not respond to the email the Register then sent and, when a reporter went to the sheriff’s office Friday, the incident reports weren’t available.

Patrick, who for the past three years has routinely failed to follow the public records requirements of the Ohio Revised Code, was also unavailable.

Earlier this month, Sheriff Dane Howard agreed to have his command staff begin complying with state law. When the Register emailed requests for incident reports on four other occasions in the past few weeks, the Huron County Sheriff’s Office provided those reports the following day — the first ever such consistent occurrences in the past three years.

It’s unclear why Judge Cardwell issued the gag order on this search warrant, or why he extended that gag order to include the gag order itself.

It’s also unclear why Patrick cannot provide the incident reports. On Thursday, Patrick said what Collins contends is not accurate.

The search warrant deputies executed at his home was for the correct address, he said; the arrests next door simply occurred as a coincidence.

“We finished a search warrant at 114 1/2 Benedict Ave. Our next move then was to check on an individual who may have a warrant in close proximity,” Patrick said. “When we executed the warrant we became aware of warrants for an individual in close proximity, which was next door”

Collins was not arrested after the search warrant was executed inside his home. The residents of the neighboring unit were.

Thomas Papp, 34, and his mother, Patricia Papp, were both arrested on drug trafficking warrants, according to Huron County jail guards.

Comments

SamAdams

Okay, all of you who think you have nothing to hide and so have no problem with dramatically increased powers for police: THIS COULD HAPPEN TO YOU!

The police misread the warrant, or there was a typo on the warrant. It doesn't matter. Before they KNEW they were in the right place, they'd already torn through the dwelling and broken things, including some which were sentimental and irreplaceable. And then, even when they knew they were in the WRONG place, it took an entirely unreasonable amount of time to uncuff the innocent man.

Did the police clean up the mess they made afterward? I'm willing to bet they did not. Did the police apologize and offer to help in any way after releasing the wrongfully restrained man? Again, I'll bet they didn't. Did the police offer financial compensation for the ruined belongings? The odds are once more against it.

I have no issue with lawfully issued search warrants. I have no issue with at least a temporary restraint of persons named in the warrant. I don't even have a problem with the occasional mistake since those are going to happen now and again. The problem isn't with police, but with police who behave like storm troopers. The problem isn't with safety precautions, but with unreasonably rough handling. The problem isn't with lawful police searches, but with wanton destruction DURING such searches. The problem isn't with accidental breakage, but with the refusal by police to apologize and accept liability.

The police have a tough job and they usually do it really well. But this kind of story has become more frequent in recent years, and with police departments all over the country requesting (and frequently GETTING) military-caliber equipment and weaponry, the wholesale abuse of power is only going to get worse. If I were a betting woman, there's one more bet I'd make: The order is sealed and law enforcement uncooperative because they're well aware of everything I've just said, but they DON'T CARE.

Peninsula Pundit

Here is an issue where, regardless of political stripe, we will stand as one and say, 'that is a effin' 'nough!'
On top of this, look at today's Blade where MILITARY POLICE apprehended, cuffed, detained and seized the cameras of Toledo Blade staff for taking pictures of the Lima Tank Factory from the road.
It really isn't an issue of 'shades of gray' anymore.
The only way this is going to stop is for us to stop being 'consumers' of Freedom and start working in the defense of it.

G_Johnson

Your 4th paragraph is spot on. I'm not going to say anything about the incident here because, as usual, not all the facts are out in this biased article and I'm sure some of this probably isn't accurate. However, I agree that actions like this in general are a serious issue, and agree with that paragraph

From the Grave

Really SamAdams?

Nemesis

" I don't even have a problem with the occasional mistake since those are going to happen now and again."

The problem is, when you militarize law enforcement and equip cops in a manner more appropriate to Fallujah than to Ohio, these mistakes are all to often FATAL for innocent people.

"The problem isn't with police, but with police who behave like storm troopers."

Clothes make the man - when you dress them like storm troopers, arm them like storm troopers, and train them like storm troopers, how do you EXPECT them to behave?

I don't fault the Guardsmen who fired at Kent State in 1970. They were soldiers, trained and equipped for combat, placed in a role for which they were ill-suited. Civilian law enforcement is not war - if it is, then you might as well throw in the towel on the whole nation itself.

In a free society, law enforcement relies for its authority and safety on broad public consensus that the laws being enforced are reasonable. In a despotic regime, law enforcement relies on overwhelming force. So, which one is the USA today?

SamAdams

Yep. Which is why I made note of the fact that many municipal police departments are requesting -- and RECEIVING! -- military-type gear and weaponry. It's a tragedy waiting to happen. Oh, but oops: It already has, and more than once.

Again, I understand that the police aren't universally bad men who wield their power inappropriately. But it doesn't take many who feed an ego inclined that direction with body armor, automatic weapons, armored vehicles, and attitude to generate some pretty nasty results!

Maybe SWAT teams should be more regionalized. Special military-style training isn't necessarily out of place for police who raid large and well organized (and usually very well armed) drug rings and the like! But given that that doesn't happen on a daily basis ANYwhere, and given that those raids require a little advance planning, couldn't police agencies request the assistance of such a team when needed? And let the "regular" police behave a lot more like regular police than soldiers charging whatever "enemy" they're pointed at?

You make a very valid point that some might miss or who won't consider as truly important as it is: Civilian law enforcement isn't war (or at least it's very RARELY so). Training cops to be "soldiers" or "special forces" is a bad idea whether they end up being truly qualified as such or not. Unless we intend to ship out the boys in blue along with the rest who've ALSO been trained to storm and kill efficiently, a whole lot of people might want to rethink that plan...

Peninsula Pundit

Regionalizing SWAT has already been accomplished.
The local regional office is on Rt. 53 on the way to Put-in-Bay.
The Department of Homeland Security Gulag.

AnAmerican

Great post Sam. FYI though....the Sheriff's office was warned by officials that the person they were going to bust had not lived there for two years. Repeatedly warned. They CHOSE to ignore the warning. Once again the Huron County taxpayers will suffer.

JohnDorian12

Sniff sniff, I smell a lawsuit!!! I was doubting thus guys story until everyone including judges and sheriffs began hiding things.....go for broke dude

Peninsula Pundit

It'd be pretty bad when you realize one of the pigs with their jackboot on your neck and a gun to your head was a high school classmate.
How 'early Nazi Germany.'

topcop1991

Time to get an Attorney and make an example out of the efforts of shoddy Police work!

JMOP

I hate to say sue, because the money will come from taxpayers, but the guy has every right to do so.

Everyone who has lied and covered their butts in this case needs prison time. Corruption should not be tolerated.

Peninsula Pundit

We, as the taxpayers, should demand accountability for this disgrace.
Heads should roll!
Watch the elected officials and let's see if they do the public's business.
Hopefully in public without gag orders!

Babo

Once the officers were told they had the wrong residence and still proceeded to search, they subjected themselves to personal liability in a lawsuit. Yes the county will be sued but the individual officers should be sued in their personal capacities as well.

SamAdams

If it were me, I'd file a lawsuit, too. But I'd also point out that chances are awfully good I'd lose. Unfortunately, in many cases, the cops get a "pass" if whatever it was they did occurred directly in the line of duty.

Do I agree? Sometimes, I think they SHOULD get a pass! But that's when whatever happened was a true accident. The execution of the warrant here might indeed be accidental, but the destruction and the terrorizing of an innocent victim was deliberate as all get-out. The police MAY not be liable, but they SHOULD be!

Babo

Police officers have "qualified immunity" only if the violations of constitutional rights were not so egregious that a reasonable officer would not question the warrant. Once the officers were told they had the wrong house and continued to act like storm troopers they crossed the line IMO and they and the county should be found liable

mikeylikesit

for every bad cop, there are ten bad cops who are worse waiting to take their place.. im not condoning violence, but if somebody decides to take care of these oinkers themselves, i would look the other way.

WinstonSmith's picture
WinstonSmith

...To secure these rights governments are instituted among men, deriving their JUST powers from the CONSENT OF THE GOVERNED.

No violence necessary... Revoke consent, stop paying taxes even if it means quitting your job, find ways to feed yourself without the need for a social security number and just LIVE FREE; and free humans need not ask for permission to be free.

If the pigs stop getting paid for victimizing people maybe they just might stop victimizing people.

ladydye_5

So you are ok with killing cops?

WinstonSmith's picture
WinstonSmith

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).

No, I do not condone the initiation of violence, ever... I even stated, very clearly, in the above comment that 'violence was not necessary' in abolishing police.
I'm curious to know what in any of my anarchist rantings led you to believe that I condone violence against anyone. Or is this just your pre-programmed ad hominem again?
I don't want to see police physically hurt, I just want to see them unemployed and/or in prison.

Was it the piggy comment that got the censor's panties in a bunch?

Pterocarya frax...

Is your comprehension so poor that you do not realize how these threads are structured, and that ladydye's comment was directed at Mikey?

Well that might explain a lot of the problems you seem to have with our society.

ladydye_5

Thank you. Winston.....my comment was NOT for you.

Nemesis

Ladydye, it's noteworthy that, in the context we're discussing, the state legislature of Indiana is apparently OK with it. They recently passed legislation that essentially makes it legal to defend one's home with deadly force even against police IF the police are not acting within the law.

ladydye_5

Well WinstonSmith and mikeylikesit can happily move to Indiana then.

mikeylikesit

no, i would rather nobody be killed. also, im not moving.

Truth2u

No, how about you and others start to make the cops accountable to OBEY the Bill of rights and their oaths? Sounds strange that someone would tell victims who were kidnapped under gun point, restrained, had their belongings ruined to move if they dont like something. I'd hate to be your neighbor if I needed help.

Peninsula Pundit

A very cogent point.

Truth2u

If they bust into MY house you better believe it, and I have three in our family who are cops and they know where I stand and two of them agree with me.

Why is everyone afraid to say the obvious, we are a few heart beats from total destruction of our Bill of Rights and soon to become a complete Police STATE. NSA listening to EVERY SINGLE phone call, recording EVERY communication of EVERY citizen but they can't find the illegals living here? We the PEOPLE are becoming the only enemies of this spiraling out of control Government.

Those who don't believe me just look at the attitude this one event had against the Register doing its CONSTITUTIONAL right to obtain information, they put a GAG order on a simple warrant, you will NEVER convince me that this area's law enforcement and judicial system isn't give the Register the finger, and that extends to us.

You know what, I hope that they bust down your door someday ladydye and your husband has a heart attack as that elderly gentlemen in Sandusky a few years back, no better teacher than experience. I wonder if you will still continue to think the cops should be treated with kids gloves when they break their oat and literately trample on your rights. Hitlers SS was the LEGAL arm of the country, just because something legal doesn't make it right or justified. These cops are nothing more than terrorists, kidnappers and self appointed Buck Rogers. Its disgusting that anyone would support this travesty of injustice from government and I salute the Register for fighting for our rights.

Peninsula Pundit

I do not wish Dye, or anyone, any harm, but if that did happen, I'd bet that would put a new tune in her horn.

WinstonSmith's picture
WinstonSmith

The war on drugs is a war on YOU.
Police are the biggest street gang in the USSA.

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