Tacoma police raided her home in error, but woman shouldn’t get $250,000, court rules

The state Court of Appeals has overturned a $250,000 judgment awarded to a woman whose house was mistakenly raided by police in 2011.

Tacoma police raided Kathleen Mancini’s Federal Way home Jan. 5, 2011 while looking for a suspected methamphetamine dealer who lived in the same apartment complex, court records say.

Mancini sued the City of Tacoma. The lawsuit was heard in King County, and jurors awarded her $250,000, finding in her favor on one claim. They decided police were negligent in failing to verify information from an informant about where the suspected dealer lived.

That sort of a claim is not allowed in this state, a three-judge panel of Division I of the Washington State Court of Appeals said in its decision Monday.

“On appeal, the City contends that Mancini’s negligence claim should not have been submitted to the jury because, as tried, it was a claim for negligent investigation, which is not cognizable in Washington,” Judge Stephen Dwyer wrote for the panel.

Judges Marlin Appelwick and Cecily Hazelrigg-Hernandez agreed, finding that the judgment must be vacated.

“Lacking evidence of negligence outside of the evidence-gathering aspects of the police investigation, Mancini did not present sufficient evidence at trial to support a claim upon which relief could be granted,” Dwyer wrote.

Court records say a confidential informant told police the suspected dealer lived in apartment B1 of the complex and that the suspect rented the unit in his mother’s name. An officer found records that Mancini rented apartment B1 and believed Mancini to be the suspect’s mother.

Officers used a battering ram on her door, moved her outside, then realized they had the wrong apartment.

The actual suspect lived in apartment A1, elsewhere in the complex.

Mancini, a then-62-year-old nurse, said she was thrown to the ground at gunpoint and made to stand barefoot outside during the mistaken raid.

She argued that police violated department policy by not verifying that they had the right apartment by doing a controlled buy or surveillance.