While acknowledging that police made a mistake in bursting into the wrong apartment for a drug raid, Annapolis Mayor Ellen O. Moyer yesterday cautioned that the city needs to maintain aggressive drug enforcement.
She said police are investigating the incident as well as their procedures "to assure that this kind of mistake does not happen again." The report is expected within two weeks.
Though she declined to comment on Wednesday's incident until she sees the report, Moyer praised the department's efforts to combat drug use and dealing. The Annapolis Special Emergency Team has carried out 24 search warrants this year, and the department had made 177 drug-related arrests through May 31.
Ensuring public safety is the city's goal, she said.
"Citizens want a restored sense of personal and community security, peace of mind and they want to feel safe," she said.
Members of the Police Department's special team sent to raid an apartment in the Spa Cove complex at 8:20 p.m. Wednesday broke open the door and threw in a percussion grenade. Once inside, the tenants said, the officers kicked a man in the groin, and handcuffed him and a woman.
Police quickly realized they were at the wrong address. They were in Building 905, but were supposed to go to an apartment with the same number in Building 901. When they went to the correct apartment, nobody was there and no drugs were found, police said.
Police said they could not speak to the residents' account of the raid.
The residents' lawyers said three of the apartment's four occupants -- two Salvadoran immigrant couples with limited understanding of English -- were treated at a nearby hospital and released.
In a statement read by Mary Schumaker, a past president of Centro de Ayuda, a nonprofit Hispanic assistance organization based in Annapolis, the couples' lawyers -- Carroll L. McCabe and Harry J. Trainor Jr. -- said one of the women has a heart problem and the other is four months' pregnant.
The couples are no longer at that apartment, Trainor said.
On Wednesday evening, one couple was at home preparing dinner when they heard the door being battered and thought the apartment was being burglarized, according to McCabe.
They were about to call the police when the masked officers burst in with rifles drawn and threw a small grenade designed to startle and disorient, their lawyer said.
Police said a woman had tried to barricade the door with her body.
The second couple came upon the tumultuous scene as they returned home from grocery shopping, Schumaker said, adding that the officers apologized before leaving.
"Sometimes it seems like we expect perfection from police, but they are people like the rest of us, and they make mistakes," said Frank C. Gray Jr., a Glen Burnie attorney who is not involved in this matter.
Nevertheless, he said, if the couples were to seek compensation from the city, it could be for property damage, medical bills, lost wages and the like.