Local News

Cops Raid Wrong House in Raleigh

Posted June 4, 1998

— Earl Richardson was sitting on his couch Monday night, smoking a cigar and watching the evening news. Moments later, someone punched a hole through his front door and a man dressed in black was pointing a rifle at him.

``Get on the floor! Get on the floor!'' yelled the man, a member of the Raleigh Police Department's Selective Enforcement Unit.

Richardson, 66, said he obeyed, lying on the floor while police opened cabinets and went through rooms in his house searching for guns and drugs.

After 30 minutes, Richardson said, an officer realized the blunder: ``We got the wrong house,'' he told other officers.

Police acknowledged Thursday they mistakenly entered Richardson's house in southeast Raleigh. But they said they aren't to blame.

They did not know that the home for which they had a search warrant actually is two dwellings with separate entrances. Richardson rents the house. The real target of the raid, Christopher McKay, rents an apartment at the rear of the house. Richardson's door bears a street number. McKay's door has no marking.

After police realized their mistake, they went around back to McKay's apartment, knocked on the door and arrested him without resistance on three felony drug charges.

``They never said directly to me that they had the wrong house. Neither did they apologize,'' said Richardson. ``I hate to play the race card, but I find it hard to believe that this would happen in some other neighborhoods in Raleigh.''

Police Capt. Michael Longmire said the department began an internal review of the raid Tuesday. ``Hopefully, we'll learn something from this,'' he said.

Longmire said the landlords can make a claim with the city's insurance department. Richardson said he is considering a lawsuit.

(Copyright 1998 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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