Legal Question in Civil Rights Law in California

SDPD Illegal Entry

Hi there! I need to know what the process is to file a claim against the City of San Diego, specially the SDPD. My brother's band was practicing at the house and he had some friends over. The police didn't like the look of them and ran their vehicle's license plate. The SDPD ran the numbers INCORRECTLY and it came up stolen. The police then entered our house and evacuated it. My brother was put in handcuffs and his friends and my mother were made to sit in the driveway with their hands behind their backs. I was in the bathtub and opened the door to two men with hands on their guns. There was a police helicopter and no less than five police cars. The police chief was even there! After they re-ran the plate they realized they were in error. The police admitted wrong-doing but did not apologize.

I realize we might possibly have a case and I need to know the process to go about pursuing this.

Asked on 6/16/05, 12:05 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Roy Hoffman Law Offices of Roy A. Hoffman

Re: SDPD Illegal Entry

The claims procedure can be very complicated, and the deadlines are sometimes difficult to understand. You need to contact an attorney in your area who practices in the area of civil rights violations. If you miss a deadline, even if you have a valid claim, you will be barred from pursuing them.

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Answered on 6/16/05, 12:59 pm

Edward Hoffman Law Offices of Edward A. Hoffman

Re: SDPD Illegal Entry

I agree with what the other Mr. Hoffman (no relation) has said.

You say that "the police admitted wrong-doing", but I think you are making a logical leap. Admitting they were wrong is *not* equivalent to admitting that they acted wrongfully. Mistakes happen, and an honest mistake is not wrongful conduct.

If the SDPD's actions were reasonable based upon the information they had and if the error which gave them this information was an honest mistake, then they have not acted wrongfully. They may have been negligent and you may have a strong claim on that basis, but you seem to believe you have a claim for intentional wrongdoing and my sense is that you don't.

I see another problem with your potential claim, though if I had more information I might see things differently. You say that your mother, your brother and his friends were handcuffed, but you don't say anything like this happened to you. All you say about your own experience is that you opened the bathroom door and saw "two men with hands on their guns" -- which suggests that the guns were still in their holsters. I don't see that you have been harmed in any significant way, and if you can't demonstrate some kind of harm then your claim is likely to fail. The people who were handcuffed would each have a stronger argument, but you can't make a claim based upon what happened to them; your claim can only be based upon what happened to you.

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Answered on 6/16/05, 1:25 pm

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