John Collins was reportedly watching some television when he heard a man’s voice yell, “Huron County Sheriff” outside of his front door. Ohio law enforcement officers allegedly executed a search warrant on the wrong home and reportedly kept the occupant handcuffed on the floor for more than 20 minutes before discovering their mistake. John Collins, who lives in a Benedict Avenue triplex home in Huron County said the warrant was actually issued for his neighbor.
The deputies reportedly realized their mistake when two of the men recognized John Collins from their former school days. Once the men noted that Collins was not the man identified in the warrant, some of the deputies went next door and ultimately arrested the occupant on drug trafficking charges. Approximately six deputies reportedly remained inside Collins’ unit and continued the search anyway. “It was inhumane. I’m to the point where I’m scared and don’t want to be there by myself,” he said.
The Sandusky area man had this to say about the search warrant execution:
“As soon as I stood up, they bum-rushed the door and threw me on the ground at gunpoint. They searched my whole house, pulled stuff out my closet, broke a couple of knick knacks.” One deputy allegedly stepped on a computer tablet, shattering the screen. Collins also noted in court documents that another Huron County deputy broke a ceramic decoration that had belonged to Collins’ deceased son.
Collins also stated that he kept telling the deputies that they were in the wrong house as the placed was thoroughly tossed. “This is a drug house. You shouldn’t be in a drug house then,” the law enforcement officers allegedly responded to Collins’ pleas.
One of the deputies who had remained at Collins’ unit came back after searching for a while and told him he was under arrest and began reading him his rights. But, a little while later, the very bewildered and shocked man was final uncuffed and received an apology. “Then they just left like it was nothing,” Collins noted.
Huron County Common Pleas Court Judge Timothy Cardwell issued a “secret gag order” in the legal case stemming from the incident on March 21. The warrant issued for the search has been sealed. The criminal complaint filed against the Huron County Sheriff’s Office is also sealed. The gag order pertaining to the search warrant was reportedly issued after Sheriff’s Captain Ted Patrick did not follow up on the Register’s (a local newspaper) public records request concerning the initial complaint which lead to the issuance of the search warrant.
Search warrants and incident reports are typically deemed public records and therefore cannot be withheld. According to the local reporter Patrick said, “You send me a records request via email and I’ll be happy to get you what you need.” According to the Sandusky Register, Captain Patrick has “routinely failed” to follow public records request requirements as dictated by Ohio Revised Code. Earlier in March Huron County Sheriff Dane Howard reportedly “agreed” to have his staff begin complying with Ohio law for public records request.
The Huron County Sheriff’s Deputy also said:
“We finished a search warrant at 114 ½ Benedict Avenue. Our next move then was to check on an individual who may have a warrant in close proximity. When we executed the warrant and became aware of warrants for an individual in close proximity, which was next door. Rumors about authorities using a warrant at the wrong Norwalk residence are untrue. It’s high inaccurate. It’s not factual. We stand behind what we did. I stand behind what our men and women did.”
Huron County deputies also claim that when they asked Collins if he knew who else lived at the triplex, he said Thomas Papp and his mother Patricia lived next door to him. According to the sheriff’s office, that “reminded” one of the deputies that one of the Papps was wanted on a “secret indictment.”