An op-ed published in the Washington Post is making headlines after an Alexandria man claims Fairfax County police raided an apartment he was staying in because of a misunderstanding. Now, the police chief is weighing in and an investigation was launched.
Alex Horton says he was the victim of a police raid. He is an Iraq War veteran who says he’s been involved in raids many times in combat. However, he just never imagined he would be the one targeted in one once he returned to Virginia.
“In an apartment just like this, they came down the hallway, announced themselves 'Fairfax County Police,'” Horton describes to us. “I was sleeping in a bed … One of them came over here and cleared the room and pointed the weapon right at me. I had already been lying down like this [with my arms spread]. So they said, ‘Fairfax County, get down!’ I said, 'I am down.' Then one of them leapt on the bed and handcuffed me.”
Horton says it all happened about a month ago.
“The SWAT team did not respond,” explains Fairfax County Police Chief Col. Edwin Roessler Jr. “This only involved our patrol officers assigned to the district station in their patrol areas.”
Horton couldn’t wrap his head around why he was in that situation.
“I was trying to think of any felony I committed in the past 24 hours,” he says.
Then it dawned on him. It was all a mistake. His complex set him up in a vacant apartment and neighbors were unaware.
“Even if I was a squatter, which I wasn't of course, I think that the problem is they don't have a threshold from nothing to a hard knock raid,” says Horton.
“After the event, Mr. Horton expressed his dissatisfaction of the police service,” says Chief Roessler. “An inquiry was conducted. At that time, the officers were found to be in compliance from that inquiry.”
Horton says Fairfax County police officers may have acted by the book. But if so, it’s "the book" he has a problem with.
“I think my goal is to rattle the cages a little bit of something that I think the cops and police departments across the country, not just in Fairfax but everywhere, they have gotten complacent with our trust and they violate it in all kinds of places,” says Horton.
“This is a teachable moment for the entire law enforcement profession nationally and locally, and Mr. Horton points out several items we have been working on,” Chief Roessler tells us.
The chief also says the incident will be reviewed again by internal affairs. He adds the department is already implementing policy changes as part of a process that was already taking place prior to this incident.