Two children were left traumatized when a SWAT team looking for drugs busted through the back door with weapons drawn, handcuffed and searched their parents, and then admitted they had the wrong suspects after three hours of interrogation, a Kalamazoo couple said.
Police had a warrant to search for cocaine, drug money and weapons, but as it turned out, it was issued to a man known as “Chum” who had rented the house on Southwood Terrace about a year before, Jeremy and Becky Handley told WWMT, Channel 3.
When the SWAT team busted through the back door of the family’s home last Thursday, “I thought it was somebody either trying to rob us or hurt us,” Jeremy Handley said.
The couple’s frightened children – Aurora, 8, and Brenden, 7 – scrambled to a closet, where they hid until the police ordered them to sit in the bed.
“We were staying quiet, because we thought they were bad guys coming in,” Brenden told the TV station.
Before acknowledging the mistake, the SWAT team ransacked the home, emptying drawers and cabinets, and pored over the family’s papers and documents. The search revealed nothing out of the ordinary and police apologized after about three hours of interrogation, Becky Handley said.
The couple said that if police had done more complete research before conducting the raid, the whole thing could have been avoided. They want police to pay for a new door and for counseling for their children, who they say have been having nightmares since the raid.
Jeremy Handley said he wants his children to think of police as someone they should respect and go to for help without fear, but the incident has scarred them.
“It makes me sad and scared,” Aurora told the television station.
Kalamazoo police declined to comment when approached by WWMT, saying the investigation is ongoing.