Another One

Saturday, November 25th, 2006

The hits keep on comin':

Mary Silva, a 68-year-old retiree, said deputies got the wrong house when they burst into her Winton Way apartment at 6:30 a.m. on the day of the raids.

Silva said she was sleeping when she heard loud banging at her front door and a voice calling “Open up!”

Before she could answer, Silva said, deputies broke through her front door and threw a smoke bomb onto her carpet. As Silva stood in her nightgown, about 10 officers surrounded her with weapons drawn, she said.

They shouted, “Where is he? Where is he?”

Silva told deputies she lives alone. She said they responded, “Shut up! Don’t move!”

The team was looking for 24-year-old Reginaldo Ramirez, who lives next door to Silva.

But the search warrant deputies gave Silva lists an entirely different address — not Silva’s house or the house next door. Silva said deputies gave her the search warrant several hours after the initial raid.

Pazin said deputies may have transposed numbers in the address on the warrant, but that law enforcement acted in good faith when they entered Silva’s house.

Ramirez, who is the half-brother of Silva’s grandson, listed Silva’s address as his own when he was arrested Nov. 17, Pazin said.

Pazin said Ramirez could have listed Silva’s address as his own during previous run-ins with the law and that the address could have been listed in law enforcement records in connection with Ramirez.

Silva said Ramirez has never lived at or visited her house.

If deputies made a mistake when they served the search warrant, Pazin said, the sheriff’s department will pay to repair the damage to Silva’s apartment, which includes a burn mark on the carpet and a fist-sized hole in the wall next to the front door.

Imagine if Ms. Silva had a gun, and was prepared to use it. Well, you can imagine exactly what would happen. Police would shirk responsibility for conducting a poorly investigated, poorly executed raid. How do I know? Because that’s precisely what they did this time.

“Let’s point the finger where the blame really belongs, at the individual who’s using (Silva’s) residence to conceal where he’s really living,” Pazin said. “It’s unfortunate (Ramirez) was using some type of elderly relative to hide his true residence.”

No. That’s what criminals do. They’re nasty people. Police, on the other hand, are accountable to us. The least we can demand of them is that they do the necessary legwork before barging into our homes. Parzin’s men failed the people they serve in that regard. They took the word of a criminal. They did no corroborating investigation to see that the address he listed was indeed where he lived, or to see if other, innocent people may live there. Not only that, but they then transposed the numbers on the search warrant. They erred. Big time. They ought to cop to it. That is precisely where the “finger of blame” ought to be pointed.

Silva said since the raid she can’t stop shaking and is plagued by dreams about people knocking on her front door.

“I’ve never seen such nasty people in all my life,” she said. “You don’t talk to an old lady like that. At least show some respect.”

May seem strange to her, but given what happened in Atlanta this week, she’s ought to consider herself lucky.

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