SEATTLE — A Seattle man is suing the police department after officers went to his house to check on his well-being.
Instead, Howard McCay said the officers injured him. And he is speaking out to spur change.
McCay and his lawyer said the police shouldn’t have been in his house in the first place and that the officers who came to this neighborhood to check on him violated the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution.
This was a non-emergency call.
And they had no reason to enter his house without a warrant.
“I felt compelled to write as our circumstances are similar,” said 76-year-old McCay, reading from one of several correspondences he has received since news broke about the incident.
On a February night two years ago, Seattle police officers confronted him in his home after receiving a non-emergency call to check on his welfare.
“Four bright lights in the face,” said McCay. “They all turned out to be guns.”
As it happens, McCay was sound asleep, recovering from congestive heart failure. His television was loud to drown out the constant ringing in his ears, and his door was accidentally left open.
He said he heard noises coming from downstairs.
“I assumed it was more TV show, so I didn’t wake up,” McCay said. “I did not wake up. Eventually, they made so much noise that I did wake up.”
So he called 911. The operator told him the intruders were actually Seattle police officers checking on him. Instead, the officers took him into custody, reinjuring an old shoulder wound.
“I started crying like a girl,” said McCay. “And I’m sorry about that.”
His lawyer said the officers violated the constitutional provision against unreasonable search and seizure.
“If it’s a true emergency, and you truly don’t have to call a judge, then you have to be able to point to the objective circumstances that led you to believe it was a true emergency,” said Rebecca Talbott, his attorney. “Here, what did they have? An open door.”
McCay believes it could have been much worse.
“If I’d a been Black, they would have killed me,” he said.
Now he wants the city to change the way it handles these cases.
“I don’t want policemen to be sent on a welfare check that’s not an emergency,” he added.
In fact, he believes there should be an entire department for calls like his, with an EMT and, perhaps, a retired police officer and social worker.
He said that is why he is suing the city.