FULLERTON POLICE RAID
Details on 10/20/10 Nordell Family's Mistaken Police Raid / Resolved 10/11
OC Register, "Fullerton chief apologizes for raid on wrong home," 10/5/11
LA Times, "Fullerton police apologize for entering wrong home," 10/6/11
Details on the Fullerton Recall
10/20/10 MISTAKEN POLICE RAID ON NORDELL'S HOME
Robyn's Notes (10/12/11):
The Nordells appreciate and accept the public apology of the FPD Acting Chief of Police Captain Kevin Hamilton for the 10/20/10 mistaken police raid on our home. Captain Hamilton and I worked cooperatively together in the last couple of months to bring about a satisfactory resolution on this incident. Of greatest importance to us, a department-wide directive has been issued regarding mistaken entries into locations by FPD personnel. (We chose not to file a lawsuit in this matter.)
Also, Thanks to Travis Kiger of Friends for Fullerton's Future for following this mistaken raid so closely!
"Mistaken FPD Police Raid on Nordell Home Ends In Positive Policy Change!" By Robyn Nordell, 10/12/11
What a year! On 10/20/10, while I was working on a deadline to update my election website, four armed FPD vice cops mistakenly raided my home. They were looking for the probationer next door. (Robyn's account of the raid). Just as upsetting as the actual mistaken raid was that the 4 involved officers did not report this "mistaken entry" to their superior for 5 days. We had no response from any Fullerton official until we set an appointment at the FPD on 10/25. We had, however, consulted with a couple of different attorneys by that Friday morning.
Fast Forward One Year
October 4, 2011 Fullerton City Council Meeting
FPD Interim Police Chief, Captain Kevin Hamilton publicly apologized to my family for the mistaken raid, gave details of the incident, and gave details of the significant new directive which was initiated at my request.
Persistent follow-up with the FPD and with the Fullerton City Council (on 3/1/11; 8/16/11 and 10/4/11) has resulted in:
- Letter of Apology from Acting Chief of Police, Captain Kevin Hamilton.
1) An acknowledgement of what happened
2) An apology from the FPD
3) Most important-an explanation of the department-wide directive/policy on "mistaken entries" that had been put into place as a result of our incident
- A Completed Internal Investigation and Follow-Up Letter
Excerpt: "The Administrative Staff determined that the officers actions were inappropriate and not within policy, and the policy violation(s) against them would be classified as 'Sustained.'"
- A Public Apology to the Nordell family at the Oct. 4, 2011 Fullerton City Council meeting
- Big-time Media Coverage of this 10/4/11 Fullerton City Council apology and explanation of the "mistaken entry" directive. At least 35 news sources covered this!
- Letter of apology from the Fullerton City Council
VIDEOS - 10/4/11 FULLERTON CITY COUNCIL - Hamilton/Robyn
VIDEO of Acting Chief Kevin Hamilton's Comments on Directives, Account of the Mistaken Raid, and Apology - 2:22:36-2:27:08
Excerpts from Kevin Hamilton's comments:
"I'm here to speak to you tonight about an incident that occurred last Oct 20, 2010 regarding a narcotic units raid; the intended address was ___ Ventura Place" [neighbor's house] "in the City of Fullerton. The narcotics unit was going to perform a probation search on an adult male probationer at ___ Ventura Place. The narcotics unit arrived at the area, went into the back alley, and then entered the rear gate of the address at 223 Ventura, as opposed to ___ Ventura Place."…"They opened the door for themselves. They were armed with tasers and handguns"…
"The other matter that was a result of the incident was that a directive has been issued by me to the department as to how we specifically handle situations like this in the future."…
"I'm here to apologize to the Nordell family on behalf of the police department. Mrs. Nordell has asked for a letter of apology from the city"…
VIDEO of Robyn's Response to Captain Hamilton & The Fullerton City Council and follow-up comments - 2:27:10-2:29:15
VIDEO of Councilman Bruce Whitaker's Excellent Comments - 2:37:25-2:39:15
ROBYN'S ACCOUNT OF THE NORDELL MISTAKEN POLICE RAID
It was 5:43 pm on Wednesday, Oct 20, 2010-13 days before the November 2010 election. I had been in full-election mode for months. I was at my family room desk, feverishly working on meeting a 7 pm deadline for updating my election recommendations; my husband (Chuck) and daughter were in the living room, on the other side of the adjoining kitchen. Election materials were all over the family room. Ironically, my two large computer screens were filled with Judicial research …
SUDDENLY I found myself fearing an imminent home invasion! Out of the corner of my eye I spotted one man walk past the window to my unlocked back door, which was about 15 feet away. Suddenly another man's face appeared in the window; he was holding up some type of plastic ID badge.
Within 30 seconds of spotting these two men, four Fullerton Police Department narcotics detectives, armed with tasers and handguns, had entered our house without our permission. Multiple voices were authoritatively saying – Police! Keep your hands where we can see them! Probation Search!
By this time, both my husband and I were in the kitchen with our hands up. One officer, taser pointed at me, was three feet in front of me asking who else was in my house. Not realizing that my adult son was in the back of the house, I answered, "my daughter." Another officer, weapon in hand, went into the living room and confronted my daughter, asking her age and questioning her as to where "Roberto" (not his real name) was.
While it was a potentially very dangerous experience, and initially quite intense, all the Nordells kept calm. In less than 45 seconds I had gone from praying, "Oh God, don't let this be a home invasion," to thinking that this must be some type of political retaliation, to realizing that these cops had mistakenly entered our home while intending to do a probation search on the guy next door. I believe that they honestly thought that they had entered the right house.
Both the Nordells and the FPD officers were very fortunate that day-this incident could have escalated into a real tragedy. Had we grabbed weapons to try to defend ourselves, we could easily have been tased or shot. IF my son had heard what was going on and had come out to "defend" his family from perceived home invaders, who knows what would have happened…
As they walked out of our house to do the probation search on the guy next door, my husband and I had different reactions. I said to my husband, "Which of the many lawyers that I know shall we call?" He said, "Let's give them 24 hours to respond."
We agreed to give them 24 hours. We immediately wrote our testimonies of the event, in case the information was later needed in court. I went back to working on my election recommendations, unable to fully process what had occurred with a deadline hanging over me.
It was exactly 24 hours later, when we had received NO response from the officials at the Fullerton Police Department, that I had a "meltdown" over the situation, being greatly concerned over whether we had had good cops or bad cops in our house… had they accused us of something… did they report the incident or not…
On Friday morning, I had conversations with two different attorneys to look at our options. We later learned that these 4 cops had not reported this incident to their supervisor until the following Monday morning, 5 days later. This was the day that we were following up with their command staff superior, Captain Kevin Hamilton.
For those who want more details…
DEALING WITH THE CITY COUNCIL
MARCH 1, 2011 CITY COUNCIL MEETING
My husband, Chuck, and I each gave a 3 minute presentation on the mistaken police raid and related issues. (We had an excellent 1st meeting with the officers' superior on 10/25/10, but we didn't receive the police report until we re-asked for it in Feb of 2011/There had also been poor communication regarding any follow-up taken prior to 3/1/11.)
I gave each of the council members a packet which included our written statements and other information.
TWO ACTION ITEMS REQUESTED AT THE 3/1/11 CITY COUNCIL MEETING
REQUESTED ITEM #1) That the city council look into the 10/20/10 wrongful entry into the Nordell home and the follow-up by the FPD for the purposes of: A) Preventing this from happening again to another Fullerton Family; B) To learn from and possibly improve FPD's procedures for handling such errors.
A) Councilman Bruce Whitaker has been excellent with us on this issue since January 2011 when he first heard of the incident.
B) Mayor Jones, Council Members Don Bankhead, Pat McKinley, and Sharon Quirk-Silva didn't follow-up with us in any way or indicate to us that they read our materials or took any action. (After the 8/16/11 c.c. mtg, Sharon apologized for earlier inaction and has taken action since.)
REQUESTED ITEM #2) For a meeting between the Nordells and Chief Sellers to discuss the police handling of this incident and the follow-up for the purposes of A and B above.
A) Chief Michael Sellers never phoned or contacted us directly-we thought that was inexcusable.
B) Captain (Now Interim Chief) Kevin Hamilton has taken good action since the 3/1/11 city council meeting. An internal affairs investigation began shortly thereafter; the internal affairs detective did an excellent job of interviewing us. Captain Dan Hughes has also been helpful on this issue.
AUGUST 16, 2011 FULLERTON CITY COUNCIL MEETING
Captain Hamilton became Interim FPD Police Chief in August 2011. He and I have worked especially well together on our police incident from Aug-October. At my request, and in cooperation with Capt Hamilton, the city council agendized two items for me for the Oct. 4, 2011 City Council Meeting:
Item #1) have Capt Hamilton give a closed session briefing to the council on the mistaken police raid at my home
Item #2) have Capt. Hamilton give an open council presentation on the FPD policies for: A) verifying location with certainty prior to entry B) correctly identifying the person they are to deal with, and C) dealing with mistaken entries
VIDEO on Robyn's Comments at the 8/16/11 Fullerton City Council - 1:19:36- 1:22:45
In which I ask for the items to be put on an upcoming agenda. (It was agendized for 10/4/11)
Robyn's 8/16 4-page packet given to the city council members, police chief, and city manager prior to Robyn's public comments.