August 25, 2005
NEWARK, N.J. --Federal and state authorities are trying to determine how armed officers raided the wrong house, smashing doors and frightening residents earlier this week, a state police spokesman said Thursday.
"We are investigating what went wrong," said Sgt. Gerald Lewis Jr. "For some reason, whether it was erroneous information or supervision, we actually hit the wrong house."
He said the address on the state search warrant was correct, but that the team of state police SWAT officers and Drug Enforcement Administration agents went to the wrong street and raided a home with the same number on Tuesday.
An assessment of the damage had not been completed, Lewis said, "but of course we will work with the attorney general's office and other agencies to make restitution."
Residents of the four-family home in Newark said officers cursed at them while ripping through two upstairs apartments and asking where guns were for 15 minutes before realizing the mistake.
"The investigator said they were looking for bad people and they were in the wrong place," homeowner Cedelie Pompee told The Star-Ledger of Newark for Thursday's newspapers.
"That's a bad mistake they made," said Pompee, noting that several doors would not close properly.
Pompee, 59, has owned the house for 27 years, and shares it with her two sisters and their children, as well as a family that rents an apartment.
State police also hit a wrong house in May, raiding the home of a retired truck driver in Woodbridge while looking for a prostitution racket.