February 25, 2009: After taking down his door with a battering ram during a no-knock raid, police in Baltimore ransacked the home of 33-year-old Andrew Leonard, handcuffed him, and interrogated him and his wife for 15 minutes at gunpoint. The police kept asking the couple about a drug dealer they had never met.
They had the wrong house. The police had either been given the wrong address, or had mistransposed it onto the search warrant. They later nabbed their suspect a few door down.
Leonard spent the next two months trying to get the police to repair the damage they had done to his door. Because it wouldn't close, he initially had no choice but to nail the door shut and enter and exit his home through a back alley. After several weeks, a relative helped him take the door down and hang a new one. But Leonard persisted in trying to get the city to pay for the old one. He estimated the police had done about $1,200 damage.
The city eventually rejected his claim. City officials told him that because his address was the one on the warrant, the police hadn't really made a mistake. Frustrated, Leonard gave up, and called the city's trash pickup to come get his old door. They never came. Instead, city code inspectors came to Leonard's house and fined him $50 for storing the old door that hte police had broken in his backyard while he waited for the city to come pick it up.
At that point Leonard went to the Baltimore Sun. A reporter from the paper then contacted the mayor's office. Only after the newspaper intervened on his behalf did the city give Leonard any real attention. "Mr. Leonard's situation is very unfortunate," spokesman Scott Peterson wrote to the reporter in an email. "Now that this had been brought to the attention of the Mayor's Office, we will ... respond with the care, attention, and respect that he, like all residents in Baltimore, deserves."
(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.)