Andrew Leonard of Baltimore was watching television with his wife when police burst through the front door of his home. He was handcuffed, plunked in a chair, and told to keep quiet as officers rifled through the house and interrogated him about drugs and a dealer he knew nothing about. It turned out police had the wrong house. The man they were looking for lived two doors down. Leonard, a 33-year-old chemist with no criminal record, said he and his wife were frightened and humiliated by the incident. For the past two months, he’s wanted just one thing from the city: for someone to pay for the damage to his front door.
The city is now reviewing an initial denial of his claim to be reimbursed for the damage to the door. Leonard said he was told that since the warrant listed Leonard’s address, the officers hadn’t technically stormed the wrong house. Critics say the confrontational tactic of no-knock raids, often involving masked and armed officers, is increasingly being used in situations that don’t require such a volatile response. A 2006 Cato Institute study found that hundreds of raids are conducted nationwide each year at wrong addresses, sometimes resulting in death.