While executing a “no-knock” search warrant, a SWAT team recently raided the wrong house after a negligent police officer stated false information in an affidavit supporting the warrant. Although the District Attorney claims that the intended suspect had been living in the building days prior to the raid, court records show that the suspect had already been arrested two weeks before the raid at a different location.
At 5:30 a.m. on August 19, Marianne Diaz and her two daughters were sleeping in the bedroom as her fiancé, Bryant Alequin, stood in the bathroom getting ready for work. Suddenly, 10 to 15 SWAT team officers burst through the doors with shields up and guns drawn shouting expletives at the family. Before Alequin could open the bathroom door, officers immediately broke it down causing him to fall backward and hit his back against the sink.
After twisting Alequin’s arm and slamming him to the ground, officers handcuffed him while ordering his naked fiancé to silence their terrified children. Kneeling on the bedroom floor, Diaz attempted to calm her disabled 7-year-old, Nayomi, while holding her 18-month-old, Brieanne, in her lap. Police searched her room for 10 minutes before allowing Diaz to cover her naked body.
Although officers found nothing illegal inside the apartment, they requested a female officer to frisk Diaz. After patting down of her nude body, including spreading her legs, the female officer found nothing on her.
“She questioned (the others) why she had to search me if I was naked,” Diaz recalled. “They were like, ‘Search her anyway.’”
In September 2014, police had successfully raided the same apartment finding drugs and a woman who later confessed to selling crack. According to a recent affidavit filed by Trooper Nicholas Nason, the woman’s boyfriend, Shane Jackson Jr., still lived in the residence with multiple firearms. In the affidavit, Trooper Nason reported that he had spoken to his confidential informant within the last 72 hours and was told that Jackson had been living in the apartment with an “unknown girl and black male.”
Instead of conducting surveillance on the residence, Nason discovered that Diaz had moved into the apartment in May with the electricity account in her name and no criminal record. Officers made no attempt to learn whether children were present or not.
“They should have come to ask me,” Diaz said. “I would have let them in my home, if they wanted to search.”
On Friday, Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early Jr. released a statement asserting, “The search warrant was executed based on the best intelligence at the time. He (Jackson) had been in the dwelling in the days before the execution of the search warrant.”
In response to the DA’s statement, the family’s attorney, Hector Pineiro replied, “It’s clear to me that the (district attorney’s) office is not going to look into what happened because he’s already giving the blessing they acted on the best intelligence, which is a complete joke.”
According to residents, Jackson had moved out of the apartment back in February. When Diaz, Alequin, their two children, and Alequin’s brother-in-law, Joshua Matos, moved into the apartment in May, the landlord informed them that the police had raided the apartment last year and that he had remodeled the unit in order to repair the damage. Diaz, Alequin, and Matos assert that they have never heard of Jackson before the raid and demand an investigation into why police terrorized their family.
“They did no investigation at all,” stated Pineiro. “You have hard-working people waking up to go to work when they were simply terrorized and scared out of their minds. [The officers] shouldn’t be looking at a naked woman, a mother of two, and pointing guns at her and their two children.”
Alequin suffered a minor back injury during the raid. Matos, who was sleeping in the living room and recovering from a fractured wrist, said that officers re-fractured his wrist while placing him in handcuffs. Diaz and her two children were psychologically traumatized by the experience.
“My kids jump every time there’s a knock at the door,” Alequin explained. “My fiancée is hysterical. At night, I can’t sleep next to her . . . she jumps out of her sleep.”
According to courthouse records, police arrested Jackson two weeks prior to the raid at a different address. On August 6, Jackson had been arrested on a theft warrant. Instead of checking his arrest record and his current address, Worcester police raided an apartment that he used to live in last year.
“Oh my God,” Diaz said after learning of Jackson’s arrest. “How can they say he lives in my apartment if he got arrested before they raided it?”
While attending a Mayor’s Cup event on Sunday, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker referred to the botched raid as “troubling.” Gov. Baker went on to say, “You hope something like this never happens.”
Just past midnight on May 16, 2010, a Detroit SWAT team tossed a flashbang grenade into the living room where 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones had been sleeping on the couch. As the flashbang incinerated her blanket, Aiyana was immediately shot in the head by Officer Joseph Weekley. Weekly claimed that Aiyana’s grandmother had reached for his weapon, but ballistics and another officer’s testimony refute his accusations. Police later realized they had forcibly entered the wrong apartment. The suspect, Chauncey Owens, lived in a room upstairs.
Around 2 a.m. on May 28, 2014, a Habersham SWAT team raided an innocent family’s home and threw a flashbang grenade into their bedroom. The grenade landed in the crib of 18-month-old Bounkham Phonesavanh Jr., blowing a hole through his chest and leaving third-degree burns along his face and torso. On July 22, the former deputy responsible for the botched drug raid, Nikki Autry, was indicted by a federal grand jury for providing false evidence to obtain the “no-knock” search warrant.