(AL) - A Birmingham couple in their 70s have sued the City of Hoover, claiming its police tactical team raided and ransacked their home in error and without a search warrant while looking for a robbery suspect in January.
Offie Wright, 70, and his wife, Janice Wright, 71, claim in a lawsuit in U.S. District Court that police violated their civil rights by storming into the couple's West End home, pointing assault rifles at them and physically assaulting them.
Hoover City Attorney Mark Boardman said the city and police Lt. Chris Graves are innocent of the accusations.
The lawsuit, filed Aug. 31, claims Hoover officers forced the Wrights from their home at gunpoint, pushed them nearly 100 yards down a busy two-lane road and patted Offie Wright down in a felony-stop position.
The police ransacked the home, throwing all the clothing from the closets into the floor, ripping door handles from doors, damaging the ceiling and pushing over furniture, the suit says.
Police did not have a search warrant and were at the wrong house, plaintiffs' attorney Jason Wollitz said.
After several inquiries, Offie Wright was told the Hoover police Special Response Team was looking for a possible felon hiding in a house at 3324 Jefferson Ave. SW, the suit says. Wright informed them the house they were seeking was his next-door neighbor's house. Wright's address is 3316 Jefferson Ave. SW.
The two houses, separated by two empty lots and painted different colors, each had addresses clearly marked on the front of the house, the lawsuit says.
The Wrights, who suffer from hypertension and high blood pressure, felt dizzy and disoriented because of the raid and sought medical treatment at Princeton Baptist Medical Center, he said. "They're still shaken up by it," he said.
The raid occurred as police were searching for a third suspect in the Jan. 6 robbery of the CVS pharmacy on John Hawkins Parkway, in which robbers got into a shootout with a Hoover police officer.
The Wrights' house was searched the day after the robbery. Wollitz said police initially indicated that someone identified the Wrights' house as that of the third robbery suspect's parents. Police have not identified that informant, Wollitz said.
Hoover police left the scene after the house was shown to them and returned with a tactical team hours later without notifying Birmingham police, Wollitz said.
The case is set for a jury trial in October 2006.
My Favorite TV Show: COPS
by Mike (in Tokyo) Rogers