Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Balko has two stories about the police serving warrants at the wrong address, something that happens regularly and often with fatal results. Here’s the first one, from Indiana (and a link to the original article):

Marye Minton, 70, and her 72-year-old husband were awoken early Thursday to officers banging on the door of their home…

Marye Minton said she is upset that the officers came inside and ordered her husband, who is in poor health, onto the ground.

“They said to him, ‘Get on the floor,’ like that, and see my husband’s had four strokes, and he can’t whoop anybody, he can’t do anything,” she said. “I’m very mad and I don’t want it to happen to another citizen.”

Officers were trying to serve a warrant for a man wanted on drug charges. The address listed on the paperwork was 4042. The Minton’s home is 4048, with both house numbers clearly marked.

But Major Mark Robinett of the Marion County Sheriff’s Department, who is in charge of warrant sweeps, said he was told that officers had a difficult time reading the addresses because of overcast skies.

And the second one (original article):

Kenyan immigrant Nancy Njoroge had been living in the United States for a year when a Montgomery County SWAT team burst into her Gaithersburg apartment at 4 a.m., handcuffed her and her two teenage daughters, and searched her apartment, court records show.

Police found nothing.

The reason: Njoroge lived in No. 202 of her apartment complex. The police had a search warrant for apartment 201.

After rejecting an offer from the county’s claims adjuster of a “couple of movie passes,” the American Civil Liberties Union is suing the county on the family’s behalf for unspecified damages, according to ACLU records filed in court.

The ACLU said the purpose of the lawsuit was to hold the police department accountable for its mistake.

“Officers had but one apartment to locate, in a quiet and well-lit hallway in the dead of night, without distraction and with clearly marked doors and numbers,” ACLU lawyer Fritz Mulhauser said in a letter to the county…

Court records don’t give a clear reason why the police raided the wrong apartment, and the county attorney assigned to the case did not respond to inquiries for the story. But in court records, a SWAT team leader indicated that it was an isolated incident.

But it isn’t isolated at all. Hardly a week goes by that Balko doesn’t have a link to at least one wrong address raid, which often have horrible endings. Dogs and people get killed by trigger happy cops,houses get burned down by flash bang grenades thrown through windows – and usually without so much as an apology from the police, much less paying for the damage.

If you had a pizza delivery guy who delivered pizza to the wrong address as often as cops do, you’d fire him.