Man hurt as police hit wrong residence
Melbourne SWAT raid under review
BY J.D. GALLOP • FLORIDA TODAY • May 7, 2009
MELBOURNE -- Andre Moody was resting in his apartment when he heard the back door crash in, then a loud explosion.
Within moments, the disabled 57-year-old Army veteran said he was pinned to the floor, a black boot pressed against his back as uniformed men with weapons shouted, "Get down, get down!"
"I was petrified, scared," Moody said Wednesday as he stood in the doorway of his small Kenwood Apartment residence in the 800 block of University Boulevard. "But the police came in here, and they had the wrong apartment."
News of the botched daytime raid by the Melbourne Police Department's SWAT team prompted Chief Don Carey to order an internal review of the April 29 operation that targeted the wrong apartment with a search warrant.
"We went into the wrong location. The target was right next door, and neither was marked," Carey said Wednesday.
Carey praised the department's tactical team. The team trains to capture or subdue potentially armed suspects.
"I looked at the briefing material, and everything was done well, but I want us to step back and interview witnesses, retrace our steps and fix any problems
. We want to figure out what went wrong
," Carey said.
"They're well-trained, professional and dedicated," he said of the SWAT team.
Moody said his elbow was broken during the raid. Police said Moody refused medical treatment on the night of the raid and that they were not informed of his subsequent injury claim.
"I'm still in pain, but I understand that the police were just doing their job," he said. "They had a lieutenant call and apologize
The raid was one of dozens of paramilitary-style tactical operations typically carried out by Brevard County law enforcement agencies each year. But civil libertarians often cite reports of rough treatment, even as officers say they must protect themselves from dangerous suspects.
Last year, there were at least 10 cases nationwide in which police accidentally targeted the wrong location
, according to a study by the Cato Institute, a think tank in Washington, D.C. Melbourne officials said the incident was their first case in which SWAT team members raided the wrong residence.
In Moody's case, SWAT team members quickly determined that they had the wrong apartment and went next door.
Because the case is under internal investigation, details about exactly what happened are being withheld, officials said. But public records show that SWAT team members found Niya McMullin, 29, on a patio after Moody's apartment was stormed. Police smelled marijuana emanating from her apartment, the reports show.
Inside McMullin's apartment, police found more than 200 grams of the illegal drug in a purse that had been stashed under the kitchen sink, reports show.
McMullin was charged with the possession of cannabis and the possession of a controlled substance and was taken to the Brevard County Detention Center in Sharpes, reports show.
City maintenance crews later repaired the damage at Moody's apartment. Inside the apartment, a black stain from an explosive device still scars the kitchen floor.
Moody, who has a plate in his head because of a 2005 brain injury, said he is seeing VA doctors for his broken elbow.
"I think something will be done about it," Moody said, his left arm in a sling.
"I would tell them that if you do something like this, plan it good. . . . Make sure you have the right apartment, the right number."
The findings of the investigation will be presented to the chief within a 180-day period, Carey said.