‘There’s no apology’: Victims in wrongful Raleigh police raid blast city’s response

Kenya Walton’s son still feels enough anxiety from a wrongful police raid on their home that he “barely goes out the front door.”

“He can’t go to a regular public school,” Walton said. “(Police) opened up wounds that shouldn’t have been opened.”

Walton spoke Monday at a news conference about a no-knock raid on her residence in May 2020 that was conducted on the wrong address. She said officers wearing tactical gear chased her son, then a juvenile, with assault weapons and detained him.

Walton was joined by Yolanda Irving, whose Southeast Raleigh duplex home also was raided in error in May 2020. They are part of a federal civil rights lawsuit filed last year against the city of Raleigh, a now-fired Raleigh police detective and his police colleagues and supervisor.

The women were joined by attorneys and activists of the civil rights group Emancipate NC and by attorneys of the Tin Fulton, Walker and Owen law firm.

“They chased me and the Walton kids down with guns,” said Irving. “They was innocent. They was outside minding their business. I thought I was going to lose my son… they way he was running for his life.”

As part of the lawsuit, Irving has demanded that the city and the Raleigh Police Department apologize to them and that Raleigh police revise their warrant execution policies.

The city previously fought the plaintiffs over the latter demand last year, preventing them from reaching a settlement, according to previous N&O reporting.

“It’s been three years,” said Irving. “We still have no justice. It’s been very hard. It’s been very traumatizing.”

Police did not petition for a release of the raid’s body camera footage, The News & Observer reported previously.

Raleigh police raid wrong home

The news conference comes after Emancipate NC issued a letter Jan. 17 to Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin and members of the City Council calling out the city for spending “thousands of dollars” in taxpayer money to fight the civil rights lawsuit, said Dawn Blagrove, executive director and attorney of Emancipate NC.

“There is no question as to whether or not RPD violated and traumatized two families,” Blagrove said. “Instead of standing on that truth, the city of Raleigh has allowed its attorneys and the high-priced private attorneys that they have paid to fight these people that they know have no money for their own legal representation.”

Dawn Blagrove, executive director of Emancipate NC, speaks during a press conference in Raleigh, N.C. on Monday, Jan. 30, 2023, about a 2020 incident in which Raleigh police officers served a no-knock raid at the wrong address.
Dawn Blagrove, executive director of Emancipate NC, speaks during a press conference in Raleigh, N.C. on Monday, Jan. 30, 2023, about a 2020 incident in which Raleigh police officers served a no-knock raid at the wrong address.

The city previously told The N&O that it would not comment on the lawsuit and would deal with it in the courts.

“We want a fair outcome for all parties involved in this litigation,” spokeswoman Julia Milstead said in a statement last month, The N&O reported. “Responding in kind will not promote justice; in fact, it would jeopardize fairness. Thus, we cannot comment on misrepresentations and material omissions that have been provided to you. Those will be addressed where appropriate in the courts.”

Police chief Estella Patterson previously rejected the lawsuit’s claims and said that police do not use no-knock warrants.

Emancipate NC provided to reporters an image of a police warrant that shows the warrant’s designated address, apartment 1620B, with a red door.

But police instead raided Irving’s home, which is at 1628B and has a tan door.

In previous court depositions, the plaintiffs said they were distressed by the use of “thinly-veiled racist innuendos” about Black people made by city attorneys, Blagrove said.

“The deposition was very racist,” Irving said. “(The city attorneys) asked questions like, why is our kids’ father not in their lives, ‘Why does your son have tattoos? What do they mean? What kind of gang is he related to?’”

The May 2020 raid was executed by the police’s Selective Enforcement Unit. It was led by Omar Abdullah, a now-fired police detective who was sued separately for fabricating drug charges that sent over a dozen Black men to jail.

The plaintiffs and the city will enter mediation for the lawsuit on Feb. 6.

They will seek compensation for the traumatic injuries, including post-traumatic stress disorder suffered by Irving’s and Walton’s children, as well as the children of another parent in the raid.

Racism at play, attorney says

“It is systemic racism that allows the Police Department to insulate those officers who blatantly violate their trust and cause harm to the people they are supposed to protect,” Blagrove said.

Blagrove argued that’s behind the recent death of Darryl “Tyree” Williams, who died on Jan. 17 in police custody after police tased him three times.

“It is systemic racism that allows the police all over the country, but specifically here in Raleigh, to create special units and give them so much leeway that they think and behave as though they are above the law,” she added.

Blagrove said their demands — that the city and police apologize and compensate the plaintiffs — come in the aftermath of renewed national attention on police brutality due to the killing of Tyre Nichols.

Nichols, 29, was beaten to death in Memphis, Tenn., on Jan. 7 by police officers who were part of a special crime-prevention squad, prompting protests nationwide.

Lawsuit filed against fired detective, city of Raleigh after police raid wrong apartment