Apartment No. 104 is the only unit at the Parkhill apartment complex that has a white front door. It is brand new, installed after the old one—which was brown—was kicked down by Boise police in a predawn raid July 16. Unfortunately, it was the wrong apartment.
Since May, the Boise Police Department had investigated a series of allegations about suspected drug dealing and thefts near the complex, with an uptick in complaints in early July.
Investigators said they identified a suspect and alleged associates with criminal histories including drugs, firearms and violence toward law enforcement operating out of one of the apartments. In the early morning hours of July 16, officers went to No. 104, tore the front door from its hinges, detonated a flashbang grenade in the entryway and placed two dazed residents in handcuffs.
"I just heard the bomb and fell out of bed," said retiree and next-door neighbor, Mary Beasock, adding that she witnessed SWAT officers armed with semi-automatic weapons escort the cuffed residents past her window. Witnesses said it took police about 20 minutes to realize they'd stormed the wrong apartment.
"The warrant said one thing, but these people were totally innocent in the whole thing," Beasock said.
Police released the tenants and made arrangements to pay for any property damage—hence the apartment's new, white door—and offered to put up the rattled occupants in a hotel for the night. Meanwhile, an internal BPD investigation has begun to determine why officers entered the wrong apartment in the first place. Parkhill residents, meanwhile, still have questions about what might happen next.
Beasock said the source of the initial allegations of drug dealing were linked to a unit where occupants had hoarded scrap material, but it had spread to a parking lot. She also said she believed the people who lived in the unit were responsible for thefts from apartment complex mailboxes. Boise Weekly contacted the tenants in that unit, as well as those in the unit raided by police, but they declined to comment for the record. Beasock said police visits to the complex were frequent, and the July 16 raid is only the latest incident that makes her want to move away from the neighborhood.
"I've only been here since January and it's been an experience," Beasock said.
According to BPD Public Information Officer Lynn Hightower, the investigation into the botched raid is being reviewed by a supervisor. It will then be shifted to the BPD Office of Internal Affairs and will ultimately reach the desk of Boise Police Chief Bill Bones.
"Certainly there is great interest in preventing something like this from happening again," Hightower wrote in an email.
The results of the investigation will also end up on the desk of Natalia Camacho Mendoza, who was recently appointed by Mayor Dave Bieter to serve as director of the Office of Police Oversight. According to OPO staffer Jesus Jara, the oversight investigation could "piggyback" on the Office of Internal Affairs report, or, in the event that a citizen complains to the office, a separate investigation could be launched. To date, Jara told BW that no citizen complaints regarding the July 16 incident have been filed.
Camacho Mendoza took control of the oversight office—renamed from the Office of the Community Ombudsman—at a crucial moment. For the past two years, the office has been run on an interim, part-time basis, but city officials say the number of complaints against BPD has decreased dramatically, leading Bieter and the Boise City Council to make the OPO director a part-time position.
Meanwhile, BPD's internal investigation into the Parkhill incident is ongoing and there have been no arrests in the case.