The squatter couple’s story is markedly different from police reports, which describe a rather boring encounter.
A pair of Miami-area squatters are filing a federal lawsuit against area police, accusing them of violating their civil rights during an apartment raid.
According to the Miami Herald, the suit was filed by Devin Williams and Khadijah Reed Aigoro. The couple had been renting a unit in North Bay Village, but fell drastically behind on their rent. Legally considered squatters, Aigoro and Williams found themselves confronted by police searching for a potentially dangerous suspect. They were allegedly handcuffed and interrogated at gunpoint, all while a young child bore witness.
The Herald quotes the couple as likening the experience to a home invasion.
Nevertheless, North Bay Village police officials have vehemently denied the lawsuit’s claims. Law enforcement told media that, at the time of the raid, Aigoro was over $5,000 behind in rent and was no longer legally a tenant.
North Bay Village Police Chief Carlos Noriega, who supervised the raid, called the couple’s claims “frivolous,” amounting to “nothing more than a money grab.”
“We were investigating a potentially volatile matter with solid leads involving a wanted fugitive, a recovered firearm and possible occupied burglary,” Noriega said. The Herald notes that it’s relatively rare for police chiefs to participate in such raids—Noriega, for his part, said he likes to “lead by example.”
The storming of Aigoro’s unit was the end-result of a three-day search for Paul Paraison.
Paraison, now 38 years old, had been pulled over three days earlier for a broken taillight. He fled the traffic stop after it was discovered he was wanted in Broward County for fleeing a fatal crash in 2017.
According to the Herald, Paraison’s vehicle was eventually found outside a Moda apartment complex. Surveillance video showed the suspect’s girlfriend getting off a freight elevator on the seventh floor—the same floor Aigoro’s unit was located.
The next days, recounts the Herald, a patrolling police officer was flagged down by a Moda maid who said she’d found a gun straddling a toilet seat on the first floor. The firearm contained several live rounds and had been reported stolen from Miami Gardens.
Law enforcement then entered Aigoro and Williams’ apartment. Their reports, says the Herald, describe a peaceful encounter—Aigoro and Williams answered several questions and were released minutes later, when it became apparent that Paraison wasn’t there.
“It should be noted,” the report says, “there was a small child in the apartment, who was monitored for his safety and kept calm while he played with his iPad.”
However, Aigoro and Williams claim in their lawsuit that they were accosted by heavily-armed officers who, wielding AR-15s, pried the apartment door open and trained weapons on them.
The Herald notes that the suit is the second filed by the couple. The first complaint was dismissed after neither Aigoro nor Williams opposed motions to dismiss the case.
Noriega stated his belief that the couple is obviously attempting to manipulate federal law to cash in on the failed raid.
“I’m sure our attorneys will expose the complaint for the fraud that it is,” Noriega said, “and it will be dismissed again.”