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January 4, 2006 - Waukesha Freeman (WI)

Man Says He Was Mistakenly Targeted In Drug Raid

Police Broke Through Wrong Door On House, Man Says

By Brian Huber, GM Today Staff

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

PEWAUKEE - Police officers serving a search warrant in a drug raid last week went to the wrong address, waking a 68-year-old man from his sleep in a pre-dawn raid that left the man fuming.

H. Victor Buerosse, 68, a retired attorney, said police intended to target the rental unit above his office at 150 Park Ave., which is connected to his 148 Park Ave. residence, before dawn last Friday morning.

Instead, they broke into his residence, a single-story addition connected to but different from the two-story structure described in the warrant, he said.

"I said, 'You guys are in the wrong place,"' Buerosse said. "All (the sergeant) would say is, 'We have a valid search warrant.' I said, 'You don't have a valid search warrant, you dumb S.O.B., if you are in the wrong place.'"

Despite identifying himself, Buerosse said, "they threw me on the ground, into a closet door, hit me in the head with a shield, not that it was that hard, but it was hard enough to knock me down."

It took the arrival of a local sergeant who knew Buerosse for officers on the scene to accept that they had the wrong man, Buerosse said. The officers left without an apology, he said.

"I thought, 'I'm 68 years old. What if I had a heart condition? What if I am one of those guys who sleeps with a gun under the pillow? What if I was one of those guys who keeps a large dog?'" Buerosse said.

Buerosse added he believed the SWAT team was an excessive show of force because there was no information to indicate the subjects of the search - a 20-year-old man and a 31-year-old man - were armed and dangerous. The raid did get the men, as well as a small amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, court records showed.

"My question is, what are they doing using a SWAT team to execute a search warrant for a simple possession of marijuana?" Buerosse, a former Delafield city attorney, said.

"When I went to law school, I was taught the sanctity of your home was one of the greatest freedoms we have. If you don't have the sanctity of your home in America, what have you got?"

Pewaukee Police Sgt. Jay Iding referred a reporter's questions to Pewaukee Police Chief Ed Baumann, who was not available for comment Tuesday night.

But Buerosse called into question what he said was "law enforcement running amok."

"SWAT teams are not meant for simple pot possession cases. The purpose of SWAT teams is to give police departments a specially trained unit to react to a violent situation, not to create one," he said. "This should not happen in America. To me you can't justify carrying out simple, routine police work this way."

Eric Severson, commander of the county Metro Drug Enforcement Unit, said his agency was not involved in the raid.

Severson was named leader of the Metro unit after a similar case on Feb. 14, 2001, where Metro officers raided the wrong Muskego home, handcuffing a woman face down in her driveway. The woman, Susan Wilson, settled a federal civil rights case for $80,000 some 16 months later.

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