Michael Hutchison and his wife, Stacie Hutchison, recently settled at $5,000 with the city of Bowling Green, Kentucky, for a raid that occurred on July 11, 2016. Officers ordered the electronics repair man and Iraq War Marine veteran along his wife, a special education teacher, to the floor of their home, slapping handcuffs on them. Search warrant affidavits provided to the Hutchisons indicate three homes, including theirs, were searched by the department at the same time that day during a fraud investigation assigned to lead detective Jason Franks.
This would have just been your average arrest, if police had gotten the right guy. However, as it turns out, the search warrant police were executing was for someone else. The man whose home Franks intended for his colleagues to raid that day is actually an African American man, not Caucasian like Hutchison, who is shorter and weighs about 100 pounds more than Hutchison.
The settlement for the raid was reached nine months after the city’s claims representatives, Mayfield-based Collins & Co. Inc., sent the Hutchisons a letter stating that the company found no negligence on the city’s part and denied the couple’s claim for damages due to the wrongful arrest. A city representative called Michael Hutchison stating that they would be receiving the denial letter. However, he offered to pay for the couple’s front door, which had been damaged, so long as the two kept their mouths shut.
Hutchison, who refused to sign, said of the nondisclosure agreement sent to him, “I didn’t think it was right. They didn’t want us talking about it. It was saying the city wasn’t at fault for what happened. The city was at fault, and it should be public knowledge. If I signed that, then nobody would know that this kind of thing happens.”
Franks was given a written reprimand in August for failing to exercise due diligence in verifying the home’s owners. One car that was parked in the Hutchison driveway was clearly registered to Michael Hutchison, while the other was registered to both Michael and Stacie. And, the utility bills, including the water and electricity were in Michael Hutchison’s name. An easily accessible property valuation record that showed the Hutchisons owned their home.
The affidavit for the Hutchisons’ home shows Franks relied primarily on an Internet search of a business associated with the fraud investigation. That search listed the business address as the Hutchisons’ home. He also relied on a home address listed with the Bowling Green Police Department (BGPD) for the man named in the search warrant. But, that man is believed to have moved to Florida at least a month prior to the raid, according to a post on his Facebook profile.
“The Bowling Green Police Department strives to deliver the best possible police services to those we serve but, even with the best of intentions, mistakes happen,” Chief Doug Hawkins said in an statement. “On July 11, 2016 the Bowling Green Police Department inadvertently served a search warrant on an incorrect address. On behalf of the Bowling Green Police Department I sincerely apologize to the Hutchison family for the inconvenience and stress we may have caused them as a result of the execution of the search warrant at their address. The case has now been adjudicated through legal insurance process and the officer who made the error disciplined. Moving forward, we will make every effort to insure that situations like this do not occur again.”