Texas police chief is put on leave after a raid that targeted the wrong home and an innocent teen
Officers busted into the wrong Texas house in a botched raid related to a murder investigation this month, leading to the suspension of Galveston’s police chief, officials said.
City Manager Brian Maxwell placed Police Chief Doug Balli on a 10-day administrative leave Friday in connection with an alleged "failure of communication regarding the January 22 search," City Hall said in a statement Monday.
Assistant Police Chief Andre Mitchell has been appointed acting chief.
SWAT officers raided a home looking for a 17-year-old boy accused of killing Malik Dunn, 25, on Jan. 20, officials said.
The teenager who was being sought does not live at that home and was later cleared of any involvement in the slaying, officials said.
“During the search, officers determined the suspect was not located in the residence,” City Hall said Monday. “Later, after performing the search, the department received new information contradicting the initial basis for the arrest.”
Balli, the chief, could not immediately be reached for comment Monday afternoon at several publicly listed phone numbers.
Erika Rios, who lives at the house that was raided, told NBC affiliate KPRC of Houston that she and her children were asleep when police showed up.
“About 2 a.m., we were awakened by wooden pellets flying through our doors and sounds of the Galveston Police Department [saying], ‘Come out with your hands up,'" Rios told the station.
Her daughter, Chelsea Peralez, said the whole experience left her shaken.
"I was scared, screaming," Peralez told KPRC. "I ended up going to my brother, asking what they were doing, and they continuously kept shooting the wooden pellets."
Rios could not be reached for comment Monday. The family's attorney, Tony Buzbee, said the family will speak publicly about the raid at a news conference Wednesday.
The mayor and city manager officials said they learned about the raid only through news reports Friday.
As a result, they launched an “internal investigation to determine what communication failures delayed the notification to City Administration,” the City Hall statement said.
The union that represents Galveston police officers — while acknowledging that its relationship with Balli "is more often adversarial" — voiced support for the chief.
Balli would never "intentionally or knowingly allow an officer, specialized unit, or even a citizen to harm someone, or violate the law," the union said in a statement.
"If by chance there was a miscommunication issue, it will be uncovered and addressed in the investigation," the statement continued. "Chief Balli would also never allow facts or actions to be hidden or concealed. Chief Balli is an upstanding citizen and leader who cares about the Island."
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com