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

libertarian

I wish people would quit calling law enforcement officials "pigs". It is an insult to all fine domesticated livestock to be associated with government thugs. After all, pigs would never extort, rob, kidnap, assault or murder. Lets call these moral ignoramuses what they are-government thugs (This includes judges, prosecutors, regulators & most politicians & lawyers). Fascist thugs/goons/gangsters, collectivist thugs/goons/gangsters or costumed thugs/goons/gangsters are accurate & appropriate terms as well. Let's condemn & ostracize them & their supporters. Let's inform & help their victims. Let's give these thugs a big thumbs down every time we see one so they know our displeasure at their immoral acts.

Peninsula Pundit

And it is said that pigs are as smart or smarter, than dogs.
Thus casting further aspersions upon the source of tasty bacon!

The governed

For those of you here defending the actions of law enforcement.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out-- Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out-- Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out-- Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me.

Nemesis

Sadly, your logic is lost on sheeple.

Maggdi

Congratulations Erie County officials! You made Instapundit! Unfortunately the particulars of this story make being noticed by him usually not something that should flatter.
I won't bother with a link. He's easy enough to find.....

Peninsula Pundit

Instapundit?!!??
Why deal with this johnny-come-lately interloper, when you can deal with the genuine article?
I'm not affiliated with Amazon nor ask you to buy things through them.
But if you'd like to help, please send your funds to me immediately instead of this poser.

KnuckleDragger

Ahh yes, the truth comes out. Head on over to the Norwalk Reflector site for the real story. This guys story seemed to have hooked the Register with his lies. So a junkie tells the Register he is clean. The HCSO know there are junkies coming and going from his residence and they find paraphernalia. This guy, knowing he is now in trouble decides to snitch on his neighbors. The guy then tells the Register that he has to stay at his moms at night because he is afraid of the police. We now know this is BS, he snitched and is worried the people he snitched on will come after him. Goes to show ya, there's no honor among thieves and the Register in their effort to trash yet another Law Enforcement agency now has egg on their face. LOL.

Peninsula Pundit

Norwalk's watchdog lifts its' head, sees someone at the window and goes back to sleep.
You will get what you deserve when the intruder has you cuffed on the floor with the gun at your head.
I guess it is easier to stop by CVS, buy syringes and throw them on the floor than it is to drop a knife or gun, don't you?
If I were a crooked cop and knew I was going in to bust 'known junkies', you can bet I would have a few in my pocket, still fresh in the wrapper, becuase it wouldn't make a difference to a parole officer if they were used or not.
So now I ask you, knuck, did you not think of this or did you not allow yourself to think of it?
In one case, you admit to ignorance.
In the other, delusion.

Sokath his eyes...

I would like to let Mr. Collins know that he can file a federal civil rights lawsuit. Such a lawsuit can be filed by anyone that has their constitutionally guaranteed 4th amendment rights violated, whether they are a minority or not. Furthermore, for such a lawsuit to be fully successful, one must name each officer that violated his rights in the suit as well as the organization for which they work. The organization can get out of the suit if they act in a way to distance themselves from the constitutional violations, but if they "circle the wagons," that becomes evidence of conspiracy, and everyone involved, including the judges, can be named in the suit.

Such lawsuits are outside of the jurisdiction of local courts and local gag orders could not apply unless the federal judge also agreed to allow the gag order to stand. Now, these suits take some time to resolve (1-2 years) but they are very effective at reigning in an out-of-control and corrupt local police/sheriff/judge combination, if you hire a decent civil rights attorney (it pays to have a good one, the job they can do is phenomenal).

Finally, officers that lose after being named personally in such suits will often lose their ability to retain a bond (being bond-able is absolutely essential to keeping a job in law enforcement--without it one is entirely unemployable in law enforcement). Any judgments against individually named persons in civil rights suits are personally liable to pay the settlement/judgment and the taxpayers are not on the hook unless the department, as an entity, was found guilty (reasoning is that if the voters supported such corruption, they deserve to pay for it as well). Otherwise, it is the individuals named that must pay the judgment in the lawsuit. Also, if the officers/judges/sheriff/etc cannot pay their portion of the judgment, the successful litigant can place a lien on homes, cars, boats, and other assets that takes priority even over a bank's lien.

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