Drug Agents Raid Home in Error
Federal agents and Rochester police were searching for drugs when they burst in the unlocked side door of Charlotte resident Nancy Dominicos. Dominicos said she was sitting on the couch when she heard someone come in shouting. It took her a moment to realize they were yelling, “ATF! ATF!”
“I thought it was a family member pulling a joke on me,” she said according to WHEC.com. “All of the sudden I looked up and they were in my dining room pointing a loaded gun at me telling me they had a federal warrant to search my premises.”
She told them they were in the wrong house. But, they cuffed her anyways. She also told them her adult son was upstairs.
The day’s events could have been much more tragic from that point, had Dominicos son not been a cautious hunter. When he heard his mother downstairs arguing with a strange man, he chambered a round into his weapon. That’s when the agents escorted Ms. Dominicos outside.
Fortunately, Dominicos’ son put the weapon down as soon as he realized he was dealing with law enforcement. In other similar cases across the country, citizens and law enforcement alike have ended up dead.
Dominicos says that when she was being escorted out of her own home in handcuffs she heard one of the agents admit they had the wrong home. It isn’t clear then why they were cuffing her and removing her from her property.
The police sent local media this statement about the incident, “Upon encountering an elderly resident, the team realized that they were at the wrong location at that time and left the premises.”
The agents then went on to search the correct house.
It would seem that this wasn’t a case of having the wrong address on the warrant, or they wouldn’t have so quickly been able to search the correct house down the street. Instead it seems as if the team may have not looked closely enough at the address of the house they were searching, a seemingly stupid error at best.
Interestingly, had Dominicos been sitting on her couch engaged in illegal activity, the subsequent case against her would have ultimately been lost because the police did not have a lawful warrant for entering her home.
Despite all of the stories to the contrary, you do have rights and the police can’t just enter your home all willy-nilly without good cause and a warrant. Similarly, they have to have proper justification to search your car or your person. Failure to provide this justification could nullify any criminal charges that result from the search.