In November 2020, 45-year-old Elisabeth Rehn was preparing for a bath when five Seattle police officers broke down her door and streamed into her apartment. She barely had time to throw a coat over herself when she was stormed by the officers, who shouted commands and pointed their guns at her. 

However, the officers had no reason to enter Rehn’s apartment. According to a lawsuit filed last month, the police had gone to the wrong address. They weren’t even in the correct building.

“Even after [police] knew or should have known that they had broken down the door of the wrong apartment, in the wrong building, the Defendants still continued to needlessly search her apartment while Ms. Rehn trembled in fear,” the complaint states. 

According to The Seattle Times, the officers believed they were responding to a “crisis call” about an intoxicated man who may have been attempting to push someone out of a window. While other first responders were able to reach the correct address, a second group of officers ended up in a different apartment building, where they mistakenly stormed Rehn’s apartment.

Body camera footage shows the officers kicking Rehn’s door in and rushing into her apartment with guns drawn. The officers are also captured searching through her apartment while Rehn sobs and trembles in fear. 

The officers’ “actions put Ms. Rehn in mortal fear that she was going to be assaulted or killed in this incident through no fault of her own,” reads the complaint. “She was about to take a bath in her own apartment at the time, had disrobed in preparation for getting into her bath and barely had time to throw on a large coat to cover herself before the Defendant officers who entered her apartment shouted commands at her and trained one or more firearms on her.”

Rehn’s lawsuit argues that the officers’ forced entry into her home violated her Fourth Amendment rights and subjected her to “substantial mental and emotional distress, fear for her physical well-being, invasion of privacy, loss of privacy, and other related damages.”

This is far from the first time that police have mistakenly stormed into the wrong address. Cops frequently invade homes without properly checking they have the right address, leading to damaged property and terrified residents. Further, tragedy has occurred countless times when police officers have raided the wrong house and ultimately killed an innocent person living there.

While the exact scale of the problem is unclear, between 2017 and 2020, Chicago police alone raided at least 21 wrong addresses. And unfortunately, as is true with most instances of police violence, officers who kill or injure innocent homeowners when they invade the wrong address are usually protected by qualified immunity.

By admin