Police raided wrong house
By Dan Ferguson - Surrey North Delta Leader
Published: February 03, 2009 11:00 AM
Updated: February 03, 2009 11:28 AM
Alex Domanski was doing some tinkering in the downstairs workshop of his North Surrey home on the afternoon of Dec. 7 when RCMP officers burst in. One was pointing a gun.
The 52-year-old Domanski was holding a screwdriver in his hand.
"Drop it," one officer shouted. Domanski was handcuffed and taken upstairs.
His 48-year-old wife Elizabeth was having a shower when she heard the commotion.
When she wrapped a towel around herself and stepped outside to investigate she was greeted by a police officer who shone a flashlight in her face.
"Where is ..." he demanded, using the name of a man who lived down the street from the Domanskis.
Their neighbour had called a crisis line threatening to end it all.
Elizabeth said the man was not there. The officer allowed her to close the door and put her pyjamas on.
Upstairs, her husband sat on a couch, his wrists bound.
"You guys have the wrong house and the wrong man," Elizabeth said.
When the Mounties realized the mistake, the handcuffs were unlocked and the officers went to the right address and took the man into custody.
He wasn't led out in handcuffs, Elizabeth noticed.
One officer returned later that evening to make what Elizabeth describes as a perfunctory apology and explanation, telling the couple the officers acted legally when they entered through the unlocked front door.
"He said this kind of (wrong address raid) mistake happens all the time, then he told me it was against the law to leave our door unlocked."
She was disturbed the Mounties had no warrant and did not identify themselves as police.
"What if (my husband) had tried to protect himself?"
The couple, who emigrated to Canada from Poland 22 years ago, have lived in their Guildford home for 12 years. He's an electrician and she's an acute care aide.
Surrey RCMP Sgt. Roger Morrow expressed sympathy for the Domanskis.
"I can absolutely empathize," the Surrey detachment spokesman said.
Morrow explained that when police are responding to a report of a potential suicide, time is of the essence and that is why a warrant is not required.
Officers are taught to enter quickly without advance warning to prevent someone from harming themselves.
They are also taught to come with guns ready because a suicidal person will sometimes attack the police who are trying to save them.
That makes sense to the Domanskis, who say they would have felt a lot better if they had been given that explanation sooner.
The Domanskis have since learned the Mounties were given the wrong address by an emergency dispatcher, and the tape of the phone call that set events in motion is being reviewed.
Elizabeth hopes the investigation will reduce the possibility of another misdirected raid.
She took a day off work at Surrey Memorial Hospital to settle her nerves, and she has developed a habit of opening the bathroom door very slowly after she has a shower.