HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Apology Sought For Mistaken Raid
Pubdate: Fri, 16 Feb 2001
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI)
Copyright: 2001 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Contact:  P.O. Box 661, Milwaukee, WI 53201
Fax: 414-224-8280
Author: LISA SINK of the Journal Sentinel staff


Drug Agents Went To Wrong Muskego Home, Cuffed Woman

A Muskego woman who was forced to the ground at gunpoint and handcuffed 
before she convinced officers they were raiding the wrong house said 
Thursday that area drug agents should change their procedures.

"I never saw a warrant," said Sue Wilson, 49. "I never saw a badge.

"They can invade my home like that without showing me a warrant?" she said.

Wilson said she was in her driveway with her dog about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday 
when Waukesha County Metro Drug Enforcement Group officers in SWAT gear 
grabbed her.

"They had helmets on, shields - the whole ball of wax," she said, adding 
that one officer "had a gun - a .45 - right in my face and started yelling, 
'Get down, get down, get your dog!' "

She said she lay face-down on the snowy pavement and her hands were cuffed 
behind her back.

Other officers went inside the home - the front door was unlocked - and 
searched for anyone inside. Outside, Wilson said, she finally convinced a 
captain that they had the wrong house. The house listed on their 
court-approved search warrant was a different house on the block.

Right house never searched

The captain radioed his officers, and they quickly left, she said. 
Authorities never searched the correct house, they said afterward, because 
they feared it would be too dangerous after the element of surprise was lost.

In going to the wrong house, no one was injured, nothing in the home was 
disturbed and there was no damage, authorities said.

But the embarrassing mix-up had the Waukesha County sheriff and the Muskego 
police chief apologizing Thursday and promising to be more vigilant about 
using search warrants properly.

"Frankly, there's no excuse for it," Sheriff William Kruziki said. "They 
made a mistake - big time. I just want to be proactive and say I apologize.

"You always double- and triple-check a residence," he said. "We're going to 
look at what went wrong - procedure, surveillance, briefing. Something was 
missed along the way."

"This is traumatic for the people involved," said Muskego Police Chief John 
Johnson, whose department is jointly reviewing the incident with the 
Sheriff's Department.

"It's a major issue, there are civil rights issues involved," Johnson said. 
"Obviously, there is a problem. There is a concern, and we will make changes."

Assistant District Attorney William Roach, who drafted the search warrant 
that listed the correct address, said, "I feel terrible for the homeowners 
that they had to experience something like that."

Roach said this was the first such mistake he'd seen in his five years 
heading the district attorney's office's drug prosecutions, and that he 
writes 75 to 100 warrants a year.

Roach said he had talked to the lead investigator on the case, Muskego 
police officer Eric Nowicki. "He feels real bad," he said.

Wilson said she wants an apology from the man who handcuffed her - 
sheriff's Capt. Terry Martorano - and wants it done in front of local 
television news cameras.

Martorano said Thursday he, too, felt terrible but couldn't comment because 
of the internal investigation.

Martorano's unit was criticized in August 1999 when armed, masked drug 
agents stormed into Houlihan's restaurant in the Brookfield Square shopping 
center at noon on a weekday to arrest a woman suspected of involvement in a 
cocaine transaction.

Undercover agents met a drug dealer at the restaurant, ate lunch with him 
and arrested him outside after swapping $25,000 and cocaine. But a woman 
suspected in the case was still inside, and agents ran in to arrest her, 
too, scaring other diners.

Kruziki said Thursday he asked for reports from each of the 11 officers at 
the Muskego incident and plans to require more training.

No ready explanation offered

No one could explain Thursday how the error occurred.

But Kruziki said part of the problem might have been officers' belief that 
they were looking for a house with a woman and a dog whose description 
matched Wilson and her dog.

Wilson said, however, that her 6-year-old male bichon frise named Bogey is 
"the only white dog on the block. There isn't another dog even close."

She said it was possible that surveillance officers had seen her and Bogey 
walking near the targeted house in the past.

But Wilson said there was no excuse for the officers' conduct because they 
should have quickly realized they had the wrong address.

"The address is plain as day behind me" on the house, she said. And her 
boyfriend's name was "plain as day on the mailbox."

She said she saw the officers coming and never ran or did anything 
suspicious. Her boyfriend, Rick Lucht, who owns the home and operates Lake 
View Tavern in Muskego, wasn't home; she was alone with her dog, she said.

"He (Martorano) must not have found anything on the warrant with Rick's 
name," Wilson said. He read an address aloud and, Wilson said, she told him 
"that's not my address." He then radioed the others and told them it was 
the wrong house, she said.

"I told him I want all your badge numbers. I want all your cards," Wilson 
said. Martorano gave his card.

"The rest of the group just scattered," she said. "I was fuming, just fuming."

Wilson said her boyfriend has talked to a lawyer. "I don't know for sure 
what we're going to do," she said.

She said she didn't think it was necessary to handcuff her. "I could see if 
I was resisting or something," she said.

"What if my 7-month-old granddaughter had been sitting in the living room 
with all those guns?"

But Kruziki and Roach said it is routine for officers to handcuff everyone 
found at the site of a drug bust until the scene is secured.

"Drugs are serious business, and we encounter people from 12- and 
13-year-olds all the way up to adults who can endanger an officer," Roach said.

"The officers are simply doing their job."
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