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Texas police chief ordered SWAT raid on the wrong house, but never told local officials
Composite screenshot of KTRK-TV video

Texas police chief ordered SWAT raid on the wrong house, but never told local officials

The police chief of Galveston, Texas, is now the subject of at least two investigations after he recently ordered a SWAT raid on the wrong house.

At around 2 a.m. on January 22, single mom Erika Rios, 39, her two teenage kids, and a third unidentified teen who had been sleeping over at her residence were awakened to the sound of police pounding on the front door and wooden pellets flying through the windows.

"Come out with your hands up!" Rios recalled hearing that night. "He said it twice and started firing [wooden pellets] into our windows and doors."

Rios' daughter, Chelsea Peralez, admitted she was frightened by the experience. "I was scared, screaming," she said. "I asked my brother what they were doing, and they continued to shoot wooden pellets."

It turns out that police were searching for 17-year-old Cameron Vargas, who had been identified as a suspect in the murder of 25-year-old Malik Dunn. Vargas is a friend of Rios' son and had been at Rios' home the day before the raid but had since left the premises.

So the police caused an estimated $5,000 worth of damage on a home belonging to an innocent family. And that isn't the only mistake the police made in this case. Soon after the raid was over, police learned that the witness who pointed the finger at Vargas had lied to them.

"I’ve been left with traumatized kids, no heat in my home, and busted windows, all because they were looking for somebody who didn’t even live there, who was also innocent," Rios said.

The man who ordered the raid on her house, Galveston Police Chief Doug Balli, has since begun serving a 10-day administrative leave while officials within the department investigate what went wrong. And they're not the only ones trying to get to the bottom of this debacle. Several city leaders are still trying to understand what exactly happened that night, but they are short on details since Balli apparently never even told them about the incident.

"There was a major breakdown in communication," said City Manager Brian Maxwell, "and we want to figure out why the city was not in the loop."

Mayor Craig Brown claimed that he actually learned about the raid by reading about it in the local paper — five days after it had happened. "We do not know where we stand with this, don't know where the lines of communications within the police department was," Brown stated. "We do know the lines of communication with us because we did not have any."

According to a statement from the city, the city's director of human resources will also conduct a separate investigation into Balli and the botched raid. Meanwhile, Assistant Police Chief Andre Mitchell has been named interim police chief. The city also claimed that it had been served a "notice of representation from a law firm on behalf of the homeowner," who is presumably Rios. The investigation into Dunn's murder remains open.

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Cortney Weil

Cortney Weil

Sr. Editor, News

Cortney Weil is a senior editor for Blaze News.
@cortneyweil →