Fifty-four year old Tomas Torres was cooking and watching television last Wednesday afternoon when the police stormed in unexpectedly. Torres says he was punched and stomped while police laughed about his blood spatters staining the pants of one of the officers. The cops say they were looking for a drug dealer, but no drugs were found and no arrest was made.
The police say they had a lawful warrant for that apartment. And while Torres says crack dealers and prostitutes are known to hang out in the hallway, he does not associate with them. As a matter of fact, he keeps a pool cue by the door just in case, for self-protection.
Interestingly, the cops used this pool cue's presence as justification for their violence, saying it posed a potential threat to them.
According to Torres himself, he heard a knock and asked who was there. He heard nothing but saw the cop cars outside. As he moved to open the door, it was forced open and several officers came in. He was punched in the face and shoved to the ground. One officer smashed his boot into Torres' face as he lie there. The police cuffed him to a chair and asked where the drugs were.
The police claim Torres tried to escape from a window and resisted arrest. It was only after a Spanish speaking officer arrived that he was released to go to the hospital, where he found out his arm had been fractured.
In response to the incident, Lt. J. Paul Vance, as a spokesperson for the state police, said that there was “no record of police action anywhere in New Haven on Wednesday.” Had an arrest been made, there would have been a record, he said. On the other hand, Lt. Jeff Hoffman, with the city's Tactical Narcotics Unit, confirmed the raid.
It isn't clear where the police got their information, the information that led them to believe someone was selling drugs out of Torres' apartment. But when he came home from the hospital at 1 a.m. the next morning, he found his home trashed. (See photos here). Though the officers didn't find any drugs, they sure tossed the place in their pursuit.
In a perfect world, warrants are issued in the pursuit of real justice, only after steps have been taken to assure their integrity and correctness. But this isn't a perfect world and mistaken raids are more common than they should be.
There are rules that must be followed by police in the issuance and execution of warrants and in searches. When they fail to abide by these rules, any evidence found can be ruled inadmissible in court. Combing through the evidence of a criminal case to ensure that the cops did their job correctly is often left to the defense lawyer.
If you are accused of a criminal offense and are in need of assistance, contact my offices today.