In the pre-dawn hours of an early March morning, federal agents raided the home of a businessman suspected of downloading child pornography.
The downloading of child pornography had been tracked to this man’s Internet address, and after obtaining a warrant, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents broke through the man’s back door while he and his wife were asleep. With automatic weapons pointed at the innocent man and his wife, the agents seized all of the computer equipment in the home.
The innocent man said, “for 90 minutes, they treated me like there was absolutely no question or doubt that I was guilty.” He was dragged down the stairs by some of the “at least seven” agents who entered his home.
Only after an innocent man was implicated and no illegal material was found on his computer, did agents look more closely at their evidence. A closer investigation indicated that the businessman had been broadcasting an open wireless network and that a neighbor was using his unprotected wireless Internet signal. This neighbor was taken into custody shortly thereafter. All of the businessman’s computer equipment was then returned three days after the incident, and an offer was made to replace his kicked-in door.
Following the wrongful-intrusion, the innocent businessman was granted an apology from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and other officials involved in the case. They have also publicly expressed regret and remorse for their wrongful course of action.
The businessman’s attorney noted that it was unusual that the agents broke into the home unannounced and armed in this case. He explained that usually a warrant is presented and the house is inspected for evidence in most investigations of Internet crime.
Source: Buffalo News, “Feds apologize for raid violating West Side home,” Dale Anderson, 3/18/2011