POLITICS

Raid Of The Day: Sylvia and Elsa Romero

01/24/2013 08:04 am ET | Updated Mar 26, 2013


November 2, 1992: Fordham University student Sylvia Romero and her sister Elsa were relaxing in their apartment when they heard a loud knock at the door. Before either of them could answer, the strangers outside began to beat down the door.

The door popped open, but was still held partially closed by a chain latch. Sylvia Romero then peered through the crack to ask what was happening and was hit with a burst of mace. When the door finally came open, 15 plainclothes narcotics cops stormed the apartment and pushed the two women to the floor. The sisters were strip-searched, handcuffed, then told to lie still at gunpoint while the cops ravaged their apartment. According to the Romero sisters, the cops never identified themselves as police. When Romero, by then sobbing, asked who the men were and what they wanted, she says one of them responded, “Bitch, shut the fuck up!”

The police found no drugs, but took the women into custody anyway. They were later released without charges. When they returned home, they found that the police had continued to search, and had caused more damage to their apartment. The cops had also taken their dog Crissy to the pound.

The raid was based on a tip from an informant that police would find heroin inside the apartment. Housing Police Chief Joseph Kinney told the New York Daily News that the raid was conducted according to "standard procedure." The women's brother, an attorney for the city of Hartford, Connecticut, told the paper, "My mother's biggest fear was that someone would break into the [sisters’] apartment and something would happen to her children. She never expected that it would be the cops."

(The "Raid of the Day" features accounts of police raids I've found, researched, and reported while writing my forthcoming book Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces. It's due out in July, but you can pre-order it here.)

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