Fullerton Police Raid Wrong House, Acting Police Chief Apologizes to Family a Year Later

Robyn Nordell 1.JPG
Marisa Gerber/ OCWeekly
Robyn Nordell
​At last night's city council meeting, almost a year after four Fullerton police officers wrongfully raided her home, Robyn Nordell got the apology and policy change she's been waiting for.

Last October, while working at her computer, Nordell noticed a man at her back door. She says she feared a home invasion, and was further perplexed as four men identifying themselves as Fullerton policemen barged into her home. 

In his apology to the Nordell family last night, Acting Police Chief Kevin Hamilton acknowledged that the officers were armed with Tasers and handguns. Nordell told the Weekly that at one point a weapon was pointed at her.

Turns out, the officers mistook the Nordell home for a neighbor's home, where they were to enforce a parole violation.
"That kind of thing could end in tragedy," Nordell told the Weekly. "It's vitally important that they get the right house." 
 
Based on his apology, Hamilton seems to agree. He told the council that the department launched an internal affairs investigation into the mistaken raid and that he will send a letter to the Nordell family with its findings in the next week or so. What's more, Hamilton said he issued a directive to the department on how, specifically, to handle similar situations in the future, noting "location identification with certainty," and mandating that officers report the mistake to their supervisors. 

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Marisa Gerber/ OCWeekly
Acting Police Chief Kevin Hamilton apologizes to the Nordell family for a mistaken police raid at their home last year.
In the Nordell case, however, the officers didn't report the mistake to a command staff employee until five days and several phone calls by Nordell after the incident. Nordell said knowing that it might never have come to light if not for her persistence was almost worse than the raid itself.

Although the incident ended on a rather happy note -- with the city council and members of the public thanking Nordell for using her situation to enact change that helps protect other Fullertonians -- the process wasn't an easy one. 

Nordell had to make numerous phone calls and visits to the police department and a couple of pleas at city council meetings before anything happened. "I asked publically that Police Chief Sellers contact us, which he never did. He should of. He should check in with someone if they've had their home violated like we did." 

Despite months of back-and-forth and frustration with the police department's handling of the situation, Nordell says she's now pleased, telling Hamilton that his apology "meant a lot." 

Some members of the public said they were baffled that the department got the wrong house. "There's this thing called Google Earth. It's really cool and it's really free," said Greg Sebourn, who spoke during public comment after Hamilton's apology. 

For others, the apology was a symbol of effective teamwork between a distrusting public and a police department reeling from murder and sexual assault charges facing its officers.

In another move that earned applause, City Attorney Dick Jones told the crowd that Officer Albert Rincon, who is accused of sexual misconduct, hadn't had his badge or gun sine July 9, adding that Hamilton had informed Rincon of his "notice to terminate" his employment. 

Although tensions still ran high at certain times during the meeting, there was a slight change in tone. At one point, Ron Thomas, whose son was beaten to death by Fullerton policemen, walked up to the dais and gave Mayor Richard Jones a "Justice For Kelly" button.
Justice For Kelly Pin.JPG
Marisa Gerber/ OCWeekly
Ron Thomas hands Mayor Richard Jones a "Justice For Kelly" pin.

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8 comments
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Joe
Joe

Shit happens all the time in the Barrios and Ghettos of America.  I guess when white people start screaming, people listen.  Brown and Black people have been screaming for years...........

FishWithoutBicycle
FishWithoutBicycle

It's not ok when this kind of thing happens to anyone! Can't we just focus on being angry at shoddy, irresponsible policework without bringing race into it every time?

Paul Lucas
Paul Lucas

Marisa, dick jones is not the city attorney he is a council member that is being recalled.

Marisa Gerber
Marisa Gerber

Paul -- The city attorney, like the mayor, is named Dick Jones.

Fullertonista
Fullertonista

Late is better than never.  But keep in mind it was public protests, outrage, other scandals, and a blog dedicated to Fullerton police misconduct, as well as Robyn Nordell's admirable persistence that made this apology and policy change a reality.

Gregory Sebourn
Gregory Sebourn

Marisa,I believe it is a good example of one person affecting change within their police department.  However, it should not have taken a year for the PD or City Council to apologize to the Nordells. 

http://gregsebourn.blogspot.co...

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