NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Three white Tennessee police officers have had their police powers suspended after they broke down the door of an innocent Black family early Tuesday morning.
Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake ordered a full investigation of the incident by the department's Office of Professional Accountability. He said the family should have been given more time to answer the door and officers did not exercise due diligence in confirming that the person they were looking for lived at the apartment.
“No innocent family in Nashville, anywhere, should be subjected to what the mother and her two children went through on Tuesday morning,” Drake said in a news release. “They were awakened by a team of officers who banged on their door and ultimately knocked it in with a ram."
The officers had used a Nashville public housing agency database to find the home of a 16-year-old they were investigating, according to a news release from Nashville police. However, the database had not been updated since 2018 after the agency determined that providing housing information to the police violated privacy laws.
“There appears to have been a lack of confirming through other means, including surveillance or checking with human sources,” Drake said. “We have to be better than that, and I absolutely assure you, we will be moving forward.”
Drake also said the officers did not appear to give the woman who lived in the home sufficient time to come to the door before ramming it open at 6:05 a.m. Police were looking for evidence related to auto burglaries, according to a police spokesperson.
The raid comes amid a national reckoning on police brutality after several high-profile killings of Black Americans, including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical worker, was fatally shot by officers who were serving a “no-knock” narcotics search warrant at her Louisville, Kentucky, apartment in March. Officers found no drugs in her home. An officer was shot during the raid by Taylor's boyfriend, who has said he thought he was defending against a home invasion.
In Nashville, Police Chief Steve Anderson retired earlier this month in the face of calls for his resignation and for police reform in the department and across the country. Activists and some city leaders said he had resisted change and transparency.
Drake has suspended the police powers of Lt. Harrison Dooley, a 12-year veteran, Sgt. Jeff Brown, a 21-year veteran, and Officer Michael Richardson, a 5-year veteran, while the raid is investigated. Drake also ordered that all applications for search warrants be approved by a deputy chief of police, rather than by the employee’s supervisors, in the future.
The local precinct commander met with the current resident of the apartment and apologized to her on behalf of the police department, according to the news release. Police will continue outreach to the woman and her children.