Oakland police accused in lawsuit of injuring woman while searching wrong house

Two East Oakland residents are suing the Oakland Police Department saying that officers serving a search warrant there threw them each down the stairs to their apartment, injuring the woman who was recovering from knee surgery.

The suit also alleges that the officers had the wrong apartment, looking for a drug dealer that didn't live there and who neither of the residents knows.

Evelyn Wright-Turbin and Clifton Gupton were home in the apartment in the 2200 block of 84th Avenue on Feb. 24, 2015, when Wright-Turbin was confronted at the door by nine Oakland police officers, including Officer Jason Belligan and Sgt. William Febel.

Wright-Turbin was recovering from knee replacement surgery she'd had on Feb. 2 to ease unbearable pain she'd been having from an old injury she suffered in a car accident in 1987. She was sleeping on the couch at 2:30 p.m. when she heard aggressive knocks at her front door and windows.

When she got to the door, she asked, "Who is it?" and looked out the window, seeing the nine officers with their guns drawn and holding a battering ram.

They said if she didn't open the door they would enter by force. She opened the door and the officers grabbed her. She lifted her pant leg and told them she had recently had a knee replacement, but they pulled her out of the apartment and threw her down the steps, injuring her knee, according to the complaint.

They then dragged Gupton out of the house as well and threw him down the stairs before handcuffing them both.

They told the officers they had the wrong apartment, but one sergeant told them, "so what?" and "take it up with the people up front," according to the complaint.

The officers had the right address, but the suspected drug dealer they were looking for didn't live there and had no connection to Gupton or Wright-Turbin, according to the complaint.

"The search warrant was issued as the consequence of Defendants' failure to exercise reasonable care in the investigation and presentation of accurate statements that were essential to the finding of probable cause for the warrant," their attorneys wrote in the lawsuit.

They are represented by the law offices of civil rights attorney John Burris and are seeking unspecified damages for unlawful search and seizure, unlawful detention, excessive force, assault and false imprisonment.

Oakland police could not be immediately reached for comment.
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