Maryland Father Protecting Daughter Shoots Two Officers Who Entered Apartment to Execute Mistaken Search Warrant

A Prince George's County, Maryland, resident fired his gun at two police officers after they entered his home to serve a search warrant that had identified the wrong apartment.

During a press conference on Thursday, Prince George's County Police Chief Hank Stawinski explained that the department received a tip from a confidential informant that a drug dealer lived at an apartment located on Lorring Drive. An investigation was completed to corroborate the information provided by the informant, which resulted in the issuance of a search warrant.

Around 10:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, two Prince George's County police officers, who have not been identified, arrived at an apartment belonging to the resident, who has also not been identified. Stawinski referred to the resident as a "law-abiding, hardworking citizen," and said the resident was at home with his daughter when the officers arrived.

The officers announced themselves, but Stawinski said he believed the daughter's statement, that neither she nor her father heard them say anything. So the resident, under the impression that someone was breaking into his home, got his gun and told his daughter to go to the back of the apartment. When officers opened the door to the apartment, the resident fired a single shot, injuring both officers.

The resident quickly realized the two people entering the apartment were police officers, and Stawinski said he immediately dropped the firearm. He called out the window to officers on the street to inform them that they were at the wrong address and also said, "Don't shoot my daughter."

Officers took the resident into custody and questioned him and his daughter.

Upon further investigation, Stawinski repeatedly explained that he fully believed both their accounts of the situation.

"I am convinced that he did not intentionally fire that weapon at police officers because they were police officers," the police chief said. "I believe he fired that weapon because he felt he was defending himself and his daughter."

maryland father shoots two police officers search warrant
A police officer takes part in a search for evidence in the shooting of a Prince George's County Police officer in Landover, Maryland, on March 13, 2016. On September 19, 2018, a resident shot two police officers because he believed they were breaking into his home. Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Stawinski clarified that the resident's address was correctly listed on the search warrant, but that it was the wrong address of the potential drug dealer.

"I'm acknowledging that our investigation led us to the wrong address," he said. "However, we did not serve a search warrant on the wrong address."

Following several conversations with Maryland State Attorney Angela Alsobrooks, Stawinksi and she agreed that it would be inappropriate to charge the resident for the shooting when it was done to protect himself and his daughter. The police chief added that the resident was "devastated" when he realized he'd fired his weapon at police officers.

While the resident will not face any criminal charges, Stawinski explained that part of the reason the situation didn't escalate was because the resident immediately surrendered and followed instructions from officers.

In light of the mistake, Stawinski instituted a temporary ban on executing search warrants until each and every one could be vetted for accuracy. Methods of corroborating information from informants would also be reviewed in order to establish a new set of practices.

One of the officers was treated for injuries at the hospital and released. The other officer underwent surgery for an arm injury but is expected to make a full recovery.