Seattle woman sues city and police for wrong address raid, claims civil rights violation
A Seattle woman said she feared for her life after Seattle police officers broke her door down responding to a crisis call, only to find out police were at the wrong address.
The incident happened 3 years ago. Elizabeth Rehn just filed suit last month in federal court. She's claiming her civil rights were violated and police were negligent.
"I don’t' think I have ever seen anybody as terrified and shook as Ms. Rehn was," said her attorney, Jay Krulewitch, "and I've been a civil rights attorney for 28 years."
Krulewitch said the civil rights violation begins with what he believes was an unlawful search and seizure of her Belltown apartment.
Rehn is suing the city of Seattle and five Seattle police officers over the incident that happened Nov. 22, 2020.
Seattle Police Department (SPD) body camera video from that day is part of the litigation and alleges officers not only went to the wrong apartment door, but were in the wrong building after showing up at the wrong address.
Instead of responding to a dispatch call to 3028 First Avenue, the suit says police went half a block away to Rehn's apartment building, located at 3016 First Avenue.
"She was worried about being shot to death because when they broke down her door she didn't know who was coming into her apartment , she hunkered down she was about to take a bath she barely had time to throw a large coat over herself," said Krulewitch. "I believe the crying and sobbing and from what she expressed to me reflects how close she came to dying. This was not a minor incident, it was a terrifying incident to her and left a lasting imprint on her."
Krulewitch said the incident will always be with Rehn and has left her with a loss of security.
Part of the body cam video provided by Krulewitch, and obtained by him through a public disclosure requests, captured the incident.
"To be a police officer, we know it’s a difficult job. They have awesome power, they have power to break down a door, enter with guns, the power to terrify people with their show of force, well they did it in this case with the wrong person, they should be held to account," said Krulewitch.
In a portion of the police body camera video clip, you see officers walking down a hallway to a fourth floor door. An officer knocks on the door, and this follows:
SPD: "Seattle Police Department, open the door, or we are coming in.
Rehn: "What's up, who is it?"
An officer responds, "Seattle Police," then an officer repeatedly kicks the apartment door until it opens.
SPD: “Seattle police!"
Rehn: "What, what?
SPD: "Show me your hands."
Rehn: "Hello? What the (****)..what the (****)"
SPD: “Who else is inside, who else is in here?"
Rehn: "Nobody, I live alone. Why, why?"
Rhen asks police again why they are there. She is visibly shaking and sobbing.
Rehn: "What are you doing? Why?"
She's escorted out of the apartment in the hallway, as officers are seen checking the apartment windows.
According to Krulewitch, officers were dispatched for a person in crisis call, it was reported that a person was throwing items out a broken apartment window onto the sidewalk at 3028 First Avenue, and that someone was possibly hanging out of the window.
At one point, while insider her apartment officers note Rehn's apartment windows are not broken, shortly thereafter one of the officers says it's the wrong address.
SPD: "This is the wrong address, wrong address."
Rehn: "You have the wrong address! Are you (*******) kidding me oh my god, oh my god."
SPD: "It sounded like you were the victim of a crime and weren't going to be able to come to the door, that's why we kicked it in."
Elizabeth: " I didn't know who the (****) was at my door. I didn't hear you say Seattle Police."
KOMO News reached out to Seattle police for comment, in an email SPD said the department is aware of the lawsuit and because it is pending litigation, we do not have a comment at this time.
KOMO News requested to interview Rehn as well, she wasn't available, but her attorney said he’ll let us know if she’s willing to be interviewed.