Three Tennessee police officers were decommissioned days after they stormed the wrong apartment to look for a juvenile suspect.
The incident occurred at a home in Edgehill on Tuesday morning around 6 a.m., reported The Nashville Tennessean. A squad of officers from the Metro Nashville Police were at the home to execute a search warrant for a 16-year-old auto burglary suspect.
Body camera footage of the incident showed the officers knocked on the door and identified themselves. Less than 10 seconds later, the officers brandished tools used to break open a door. When they were able to get the screen door opened, they used a battering ram to force their way in.
While the officers were using the ram, a confused woman went to the door and asked why they were there.
“What is going on?” the woman asked.
The officers told her to step back and kept banging on the door. When they finally got in, they shouted commands at the woman. She told them her children were in the home and she was in a state of undress. They allowed her to get a pair of shorts before they demanded she come outside and stand on the porch.
On Wednesday, Metro Nashville Interim Police Chief John Drake announced three officers would be stripped of their policing powers, known as decommissioning. The incident is currently under investigation by the Office of Professional Accountability. The decommissioned officers include Lieutenant Harrison Dooley, Sergeant Jeff Brown and Officer Michael Richardson.
“No innocent family in Nashville, anywhere, should be subjected to what the mother and her two children went through on Tuesday morning,” Drake said in a news release. “They were awakened by a team of officers who banged on their door and ultimately knocked it in with a ram. It appears that the mother was not given the proper time to come to the door before it was breached.”
The chief also scolded the officers for taking shortcuts to determine the teenager’s correct home address. The officers used a Nashville public housing agency database to connect the teenager to the apartment, which had not been updated since 2018 due to privacy concerns, according to The Associated Press. However, the teen and his mother had not lived at the apartment for at four months and a new family moved in soon afterward. The officers did not use other means, like surveillance, to confirm the suspect’s address.
“It also appears that the West Precinct did not exercise due diligence in confirming that the 16-year-old who was the subject of the search warrant even lived at that apartment,” Drake said. “In light of this scenario, we will be conducting a review of our search warrant processes and provide whatever updated training is necessary to help ensure that Tuesday’s scenario is not repeated.”
Drake said the department has reached out to the family to provide any services they may need. He also decided search warrants will be approved by deputy police chiefs rather than supervisors.
“We have to be better than that,” the chief said. “And I absolutely assure you, we will be moving forward.”