Lake Stevens woman sues after she says police raided the wrong house

VIDEO: Lake Stevens woman sues after she says police raided the wrong house

A Lake Stevens woman is suing after she said a team of officers from the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office and Seattle Police Department burst into her home, causing thousands of dollars in damages and injuring her.

She said police came in with guns drawn and handcuffed her, searching for evidence linked to a man who had moved out five months prior.

"How will I ever feel safe here again?" Gill said. "I feel paralyzed."

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Gill said it all started when she was in her bathroom, about to blow dry her hair. Suddenly, she said, she heard loud pounding at the front door.

"It was -- bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, ‘Seattle Police, drop the weapon, open the door!'" Gill said. "Then my door came off the hinges."

Gill said she hit the floor of the bathroom, believing a burglar had broken in while she was in the shower and that police must be in pursuit.

"I'm thinking I could get caught in the crossfire and die on my bathroom floor," she said.

Then someone started jiggling the bathroom door knob.

"The voice says, ‘Seattle police, drop the weapon. Who's behind this door?'" she said. "I said I own the house. I don't have a weapon, was the second thing I said."

Gill crawled toward the door, unlocked it, and turned the door knob.

"I just remember this part of his hand and the bottom of the gun and I forced myself not to look at the -- I forced myself to look at his eyes," she said. Gill put up her hands, believing her ordeal was over.

But what happened next, she said, stunned her.

"He says, ‘I have to arrest you and take you into the precinct for questioning,'" Gill said, "And now I know there's no bad guy in my house."

Gill said she was handcuffed painfully by a Seattle police officer, despite injuries from a prior car accident.

"Do you tell him how painful it is when you're handcuffed?" reporter Linzi Sheldon asked.

"Yeah, I said, ‘This hurts, I've had spinal fusion,'" she said. Gill said she remained in cuffs, however, as Seattle police asked her about a man named Steven Fisher.

"I don't know anything about him," she said. "I didn't even know his name."

So how is he connected to Gill?

KIRO 7 requested SPD's search warrant affidavit, wherein officers stated that Fisher claimed to live with his mother at Gill's Lake Stevens address; that he had "the same address on his driver's license" and that it was the "same address he provided to the King County Jail."

"What questions do you have for Seattle police?" reporter Linzi Sheldon asked.

"Can't you just check Zillow?" Gill asked. "It was so easy. You type in the address."

When KIRO 7 checked on Zillow, it was there: sold months before. Snohomish County property records showed the same: Fisher had sold the house to Evolve 119th LLC, entered in the system,
March 1, 2017. Records show the company sold it to Gill in May -- several months before police showed up at her house in August of 2017.

KIRO 7 asked Seattle Police if they checked these property records before suddenly showing up, but SPD refused to answer.

"While we cannot comment further on pending litigation, we believe this search warrant was lawfully executed," a spokesperson wrote by email.

They also did not answer a follow-up question: "What can our viewers expect SPD to do before searching a home?"

Fortunately for Gill, she knew a police officer in the robbery unit. She said officers called him and sorted out the mistake. But she said that's not enough.

"I'm concerned that you have to know somebody in the Seattle Police Department for it to end -- to be let out of handcuffs," she said. "What if I didn't speak English? Then what?"

Gill is suing for damages, including injuries to her back from the handcuffs and income lost after she couldn't work for months and lost her job.

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