An Indiana mother filed a lawsuit after a SWAT team accidentally broke into and destroyed her home and her county let her pay for the damages.
More than 30 officers with the South Bend Police Department and the St. Joseph County Police Department ambushed Amy Hadley's home in the 1800 block of East Calvert Street on June 10, 2022, Ms. Hadley alleged in a lawsuit filed last week. As they descended on the house, the officers threw gas grenades, smashed windows, knocked down walls and fired flashbangs inside.
Ms Hadley's then 15-year-old son Noah, who was home alone at the time, was handcuffed and taken to the police station — even as officers admitted from the raid's body camera that he was apparently not the suspect they hoped to arrest .
The real suspect, John Parnell Thomas, is believed to have been involved in shootings miles away but had no connection to Ms Hadley and had never been seen at the residence. A detective had mistakenly concluded that Thomas was hiding in the house after tracking Facebook posts and pulling up a false IP address.
The raid left Noah injured and the house completely destroyed, Ms Hadley's lawyer claimed in the suit. Family photos of loved ones who had died, her children's paintings and her personal belongings were also damaged as police combed through the home, according to the nonprofit Institute of Justice.
But more than a year after the terrifying ordeal, government agencies have refused to give her any compensation for the $16,000 worth of damage.
Some of the damage was partially covered by her insurance, but Ms. Hadley's requests for help from both law enforcement agencies were ignored, according to her lawyer, Marie Miller.
“Amy did nothing wrong to invite the devastation that government officials purposefully inflicted on her property,” said Ms. Miller, a lawyer for the Institute of Justice. “The public as a whole, not just Amy, must pay for the costs of this law enforcement action.”
Shortly after Noah came out of the house at the request of law enforcement using bullhorns, officers were captured on body camera footage saying they believed they had the wrong person.
“It's not him,” an officer can be heard saying. “This is a child.”
After Ms Hadley was alerted by a neighbor to the disturbance at her home, she arrived at the residence and desperately tried to explain to officers that they were raiding the wrong house. They also noted that the family's kitten was the only living thing inside the house.
But for the next few hours, Mrs Hadley and her daughter were forced to watch from the street as officers continued to destroy the house.
Immediately after the raid, Mrs Hadley and her two children had to sleep in their car because the air inside the house was unsafe due to toxic gases and their beds were littered with broken glass. They returned home four days later.
“The raid turned our lives and our home upside down,” Ms Hadley told the Institute of Justice. “The police clearly made a huge mistake but there was never an apology for the way they treated us or an offer to cover the damage. If one of the agencies doesn't take responsibility, I hope the court will.”
The independent has contacted the South Bend Police Department and the St Joseph County Police Department for comment.