A Jacksonville homeowner thought she may have been robbed Sunday, but realized instead her home had been altered by a SWAT team.
Deborah Franz was told to leave her home by police during a standoff with her neighbor over the weekend. According to WTEV-TV, Franz overheard loud fighting next door, and then saw SWAT team members swarm the street.
“The cop goes ‘You all need to leave, you can’t be in your house,'” Franz told the station.
The standoff lasted nearly six hours, but after the scene was cleared by law enforcement, Franz was able to return to her home and was under the impression everything was back to normal.
That’s when she was taken by surprise.
“I was the first one that came in the door and I stopped – I froze – because I realized somebody had messed with my TV,” Franz said. Her television and her game console had been moved and unplugged, her blinds were open on several windows, and blankets she had covering some walls were thrown on the floor.
After taking a quick inventory and realizing nothing was missing, Franz could only assume it was the police that had been in her house. “They were the last people I (saw) around my house,” she said.
Then she called the station to confirm her suspicions. “When he did call me back and he said ‘Yeah Ms. Franz my men did come in your house,'” said Franz.
Even worse, the mess in Franz’s house didn’t help the cops’ cause; after a near 6-hour standoff that blocked off access to most of the neighborhood, the police finally realized that the suspect had escaped the residence and and the SWAT team effort missed him completely.
Usually law enforcement officials need a warrant or permission to enter a home, but one attorney WTEV interviewed said it appears the team used Franz’s home to gain an edge on the suspect.
“It seems they only entered into the home to gain a tactical advantage. I think if there’s any violation that would probably be it,” criminal defense attorney Miguel Rosada Jr., said.
For now, Franz simply wants an explanation and an apology. “If you’re going to come in my home and use my home, at least let me know or at least try to contact me,” said Franz.
According to Rosada, it would be difficult to bring forth a case because there were no damages but he said the JSO should have at least notified her.
See Franz’s story here:
The tactic is similar to one used by Massachusetts authorities during the aftermath of the Boston bombing. At the time, police outfitted in tactical gear swept full neighborhoods while looking for the suspects.
The story also reflects some of the concerns over increased police militarization. On Tuesday, TheBlaze reported on a Des Moines, Iowa, family that had their doors knocked down by a local SWAT team serving a search warrant. According to the family, they would have consented to the search had the officers simply knocked.
“This is over property purchased with a stolen credit card,” the homeowner said in the Iowa case. “It doesn’t make any sense to go to such extremes for something that simple.”
Police never found the items they were looking for in the Iowa case but did make two arrests on unrelated charges.
(H/T: WTEV Jacksonville)
Follow Elizabeth Kreft (@elizabethakreft) on Twitter.