CHARLOTTE — A home in east Charlotte was nearly destroyed last year, and the family that used to live there said Charlotte-Mecklenburg police caused the damage while trying to serve a warrant on a man they thought was inside.
On July 11, 2020, officers were looking for a man wanted in a violent attack five days earlier, but he wasn’t in the house. By the time officers left, the home was badly damaged.
“There were holes there, there were holes in the bedroom behind that door. The house was tear-gassed. We couldn’t even go in there,” said Melinda London.
London wasn’t home at the time but said a family member offered to give police a key. Instead, they forced their way in, and London and her family had to move out.
“I’m still homeless. My family’s still displaced,” London said.
City Councilwoman Dimple Ajmeera raised the case on Tuesday when City Council’s Safe Communities Committee met to discuss CMPD’s search warrant policies.
“Did risk assessment end up paying for those damages? What is our existing policy around that?” Ajmeera asked.
CMPD said Deputy Chief Stella Patterson was there and offered that night to help the family find another place to live.
“I believe I’m familiar with the one you’re talking about because I was out there on that warrant,” Patterson said.
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London and her attorney dispute that.
“I don’t know who CMPD talked with but they sure didn’t talk with Melinda London, because Melinda London is still homeless,” London said.
“They’ve not come near to approaching what they need to do to make this family whole, otherwise we wouldn’t be here,” attorney Dominique Carr said.
CMPD said they did work with the city’s risk management office to reimburse the homeowner for repairs. And Patterson told the committee they want to make it standard practice in cases like this.
But London is still waiting and said something has to change.
“Definitely, because I don’t want anybody, no other family to go through what I went through, to lose their home. That’s not fair to anyone,” London said.
Part of the conversation with Charlotte City Council involved a request from a community activist to make several changes to the search warrant process.
Channel 9′s Mark Becker said Wednesday that Robert Dawkins with Action NC approached councilors with several proposed changes. It included having officers execute warrants only during daylight hours and to stop using flash-bangs or distraction devices.
CMPD said it’s already made changes to its process and that other suggestions weren’t practical.