A Kihei couple is suing the Maui Police Department in federal court after officers allegedly raided their home while executing a search warrant on the wrong address last year.
April and Norman Freeland allege that police forced them outside and searched their home for nearly half an hour, even after they knew they were at the wrong location. Attorney Sam MacRoberts of the Law Office of Philip Lowenthal said the couple still has never seen a warrant for the search.
“Everyone is supposed to feel safe inside their home, and the one person who’s supposed to protect you, the police, are the ones who invaded their home,” he said. “They feel violated.” . . .
According to the Freelands’ complaint, they were at home hosting a dinner for three guests on April 15 when they heard a loud noise from their front lanai at around 9 p.m.
When the Freelands approached the door to their lanai they found armed men who did not identify themselves but were later identified as Maui Police officers, according to the complaint.
“When Norman Freeland touched the door, the men rushed into the Freelands’ home without permission,” the complaint alleges, adding that the officers did not “knock and announce” their presence as required by state law.
The officers “screamed and yelled” as they entered the home, grabbed Norman Freeland by the wrist and forced him and his wife outside, where they were held by a man carrying a “combat-type weapon,” according to the complaint.
The men told the Freelands that they had a warrant but did not show it to them, according to the complaint. It also claims April Freeland told them that they were at the wrong house and pointed out that their address was clearly displayed on the outside fence and door. Still, the officers continued to detain them and searched the house for around 30 minutes, according to the complaint.
The officers “overturned furniture,” “searched the Freelands’ drawers” and “created a mess in the Freelands’ home,” according to the complaint.
The police say they promptly apologized once they realized they had the wrong house, and that the Freeland’s are lying about the search, the time they were detained, and that the police overturned furniture.
“If a chair got knocked down in the process of an entry, that might have happened, but it would not have been done purposely to damage any part of their home,” she said.
Maybe the Maui police are different, but that’s certainly not consistent with the many post-drug raid photos I’ve seen. In any case, there’s no need for concern, as this was just a, well let’s just let them say it . . .
Lutey said the situation was extremely unusual, but police responded correctly as soon as it was apparent that they were at the wrong address.
“It’s certainly not our practice or policy to go to the wrong house to execute warrants,” she said. “This is the first time I’m aware of this ever happening in all the years I’ve been involved in representing the Maui Police Department.”