EASTON, Pa. - One family says a police raid on their house was unwarranted -- literally.
They claim Easton Police came into their house without a search warrant, looking for a suspected fugitive. Now, the family is demanding an investigation.
It all happened on June 17 at Sharon Wells' house on West Wilkes-Barre Street.
Just after six in the morning, Wells said Easton Police, along with New Jersey detectives, raided her home.
"[The detective] said, 'I'm here because I know your son lives here and I know he's in the house,'" said Wells.
Officers were looking for Wells' son, Daron Brown, who was wanted in New Jersey for alleged identity theft and missed child support payments.
Brown later turned himself into Garden State authorities. What officers did not have, according to Wells, was a search warrant.
She claims she and a home health worker both told police they could not come in.
"I started screaming and yelling, 'Get out of my home! You have no right in my home,'" said Wells. "You're violating my personal space."
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that police can only enter a home to arrest a person who doesn't live there in limited circumstances -- for example, if they believe someone's safety is at risk or if there's a fear of escape.
The home health worker, Cynthia Jackson, claims neither was the case in the home. In fact, Brown was not even at the residence and arrest warrants listed his home address as Elizabeth, N.J.
"Then [the officer] busts out and says, 'Well, being that you can't speak for this house,' puts his hand on his gun, moved me out of the way, and said, 'We're going in.'"
Easton Police and Union Co., N.J., authorities said they are taking the allegations seriously and both conducting internal reviews of officers' actions.
"We want all those officers involved to be addressed," said Salaam Ismial, a community advocate with the New Jersey-based United Youth Council. "We want the chief of police to do what's necessary to make sure this doesn't happen again."
Easton chief Carl Scalzo said an internal review is now underway and is expected to take up to several weeks.
Scalzo said internal affairs will review officers' notes, as well as audio and video recordings from the raid.
There is no record of officers obtaining a search warrant for Wells' residence, according to Magisterial District Judge Daniel Corpora's office.
Corpora's district includes Wells' residence.
Wells plans to meet with Union Co., N.J., prosecutors next week.
"The Union County Prosecutor is in receipt of a complaint regarding this matter and is waiting additional information from the complainant prior to determining a course of action," said Mark Spivey, a spokesman for the county prosecutor's office.
Allentown, PA 18102
- Western New Jersey 69 News