An Ohio police officer executed a search warrant on the wrong home, ransacked the place, and reportedly kept the occupant handcuffed on the floor for more than 20 minutes before discovering their mistake.
The police department then tried to cover everything up.
John Collins, who lives in a Benedict Avenue triplex home in Huron County, Ohio, said the warrant was actually issued for his neighbor.
Collins was watching television when he heard a man’s voice yell, “Huron County Sheriff” outside of his front door.
“As soon as I stood up, they bum-rushed the door and threw me on the ground at gunpoint. They searched my whole house, pulled stuff out my closet, broke a couple of knick knacks,” he said, according to the Sandusky Register.
One Ohio sheriff’s deputy allegedly stepped on a computer tablet, shattering the screen. Collins also noted in court documents that another Huron County deputy broke a ceramic decoration that had belonged to Collins’ deceased son.
The Sandusky, Ohio, area man also maintains that he kept telling the deputies that they were in the wrong house as the placed was ransacked.
“This is a drug house. You shouldn’t be in a drug house then,” the law enforcement officers allegedly responded to Collins’ pleas.
The deputies reportedly realized their mistake when two of the men recognized Collins from their former school days. Once the men noted that Collins was not the man identified in the warrant, some deputies then went to the accurate address and ultimately arrested the occupant on drug trafficking charges. Approximately six deputies reportedly remained inside Collins’ unit and continued the search anyway.
“It was inhumane. I’m to the point where I’m scared and don’t want to be there by myself,” he told the Register.
One of the deputies who had remained at Collins’ unit came back after searching for a while and told him he was under arrest and began reading him his rights. But, a little while later, the very bewildered and shocked man was finally uncuffed and received an apology.
“Then they just left like it was nothing,” Collins said.
Huron County Common Pleas Court Judge Timothy Cardwell issued a “secret gag order” in the legal case stemming from the incident, according to the Register. The gag order pertaining to the search warrant was reportedly issued after Sheriff’s Captain Ted Patrick did not follow up on the Register’s public records request.
Search warrants and incident reports are typically deemed public records and therefore cannot be withheld. According to the Register Patrick said, “You send me a records request via email and I’ll be happy to get you what you need.” According to the newspaper, Patrick has “routinely failed” to follow public records request requirements as dictated by Ohio Revised Code.
Police issued a statement, which said in part, “We stand behind what we did. I stand behind what our men and women did.”
Collins told the Norwalk Reflector that he has been a law-abiding citizen and the deputies had no reason to break down his door and search his home. Deputies also claim that when they asked Collins if he knew who else lived at the triplex, he told them. According to the sheriff’s office, that “reminded” one of the deputies that the neighbor also was wanted on a “secret indictment.”