Fullerton police apologize for raiding wrong home in drug probe
Fullerton's acting police chief and the City Council have apologized to a family after the department's narcotics officers mistakenly raided the wrong home after entering through the incorrect back gate.
Capt. Kevin Hamilton, who is temporarily overseeing the embattled department, told the City Council late Tuesday about an internal affairs investigation into the incident last Oct. 20 that resulted in the Nordells' home mistakenly being entered, and said it was a rare error.
"I am here to apologize on behalf of the police department to the Nordells," Hamilton told council members. The City Council approved a formal city apology.
The apology came after Robyn Nordell, who lived in the wrong raided home and teaches government, requested a public apology from the chief after discovering that the officers involved did not initially report the incident to the department's brass.
Hamilton said a narcotics team was performing a search on a probationer's home in the 200 block of Ventura Place and went into the back alley but went through the wrong gate and entered the Nordells' home instead. He said officers realized the error immediately and went to the correct address and "eventually arrested that individual." Hamilton said he would be contacting the Nordells about the investigation in the near future.
The captain said as a result of the incident, he issued a new directive issue to the department on how we deal with such issues in the future if an error occurs and how to avoid such events.
Hamilton said the department does hundreds of resident entries annually and the last known such error occurred in 1982 or 1983.
"This is a very rare circumstance. this is very much an aberration," Hamilton said.
Council members praised the new directive.
"A warrantless entry like this can be life-threatening," Councilman Bruce Whitaker said. "This has resulted in a good policy change."
Robyn Nordell told the council she took up the issue to spare other residents the experience.
"It is our desire to make sure that this doesn't happen again," she told the council, "and it is the hope it will be handled better in the first five days."
She told the council that officers involved did not report to their supervisors and that the police department management only learned of it once her family complained.
-- Richard Winton
Photo: Kevin Hamilton, acting Fullerton police chief. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times