Dad's angry after deputies pull guns on daughter
Posted August 7, 2008 7:55 p.m. EDT
Updated October 12, 2011 9:50 a.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — Deputies trying to serve an arrest warrant were following procedure when they entered a home where a 13-year-old girl had been sleeping and pointed their guns at her, Wake County's Sheriff Donnie Harrison said Thursday.
The girl's father, Mitch Mohrmann, said his daughter was home alone Wednesday morning when she woke up to the sound of deputies in their home on Azalea Drive in Raleigh.
"She said she heard yelling in the living room of my house," Mohrmann said. "She opened her door to see what was going on, and at that point, there was a sheriff's deputy pointing a gun at her, telling her to put her hands up."
Harrison said the officers were trying to serve a warrant for the arrest of Thomas Paul Koenigs, 44, for failing to appear in court on charges of assault on a government official and resisting a public officer.
The address listed on the warrant was Mohrmann's. Koenigs had rented the house until March 2000 when Mohrmann bought the home, he said.
Wednesday was not the first time officers had been to the home looking for Koenigs. They attempted to serve warrants at the same address in 2001 and 2005. Each time, Mohrmann said, he told them they had the wrong house.
The sheriff's office serves more than 11,000 warrants a year for law enforcement agencies throughout the county.
Part of the problem, authorities say, is that when someone is arrested they must rely on the person's word when they can't verify their address with a driver's license. Often, suspects knowingly give false addresses. That is apparently what happened in Koenigs case, authorities said.
Because of the volume of warrants they serve, the fact that people do give false addresses and that a lot of these people are transient, makes it very hard to keep track of them, Harrison said.
"It's not the first time something like this has happened," Harrison said. "We're continuously trying to (address the problem). When people move, they just use their old addresses, and that throws us off their trail a little longer."
Harrison said he is open to any ideas that might improve the system and that he has talked to his staff about the problem. So far, they haven't come up with a workable solution.
Mohrmann said he does not mind that deputies went inside his house. The issue he has is that they pointed their guns at his daughter.
"It's terrifying to me," he said.
When the first deputy arrived at the home, he saw movement inside the house. When there was no response at the front door, he called for backup, Harrison said. When the second deputy arrived, they moved to the back of the house, which is standard procedure.
"The door was ajar, so that told them either somebody had gone out of the house or somebody was still in the house and would not come to the door," Harrison said.
“We don't know what we're confronting when we come in," he added. "Was there a break-in in progress when we rode up on it? I'm sure they had their weapons out."
But he said that as soon as the deputies saw the girl, they put away their weapons, explained why they were there and talked to her mother over the phone.
Harrison said he understands Mohrmann's anger and planned to talk with him about it, but he said officers never know the type of situation they are going into and they did what they are trained to do.
"How about if we had not checked that house? Somebody had broken in and attacked his daughter, and he didn't find out about it until he came home," he said.
"Now, I'm not trying to make excuses, but that's what we have to look at all the time. We have to make those decisions."