Police Tape

A Watsonville-area couple is contemplating suing the Santa Cruz and Monterey County Sheriff's offices after a gang task force serving a search warrant kicked in their door, only to figure out they were supposed to be at the house next door.

A claim filed against Monterey County by Linda Macias and Javier Gomez was rejected by county counsel's office because the warrant was written and executed by Santa Cruz County, and Monterey County Sheriff's deputies were there to provide backup, according to Monterey County Sheriff's Chief John Thornburg. While the couple has a Watsonville mailing address, their house is in unincorporated Monterey County.

The incident happened on Jan. 29, when the task force served a warrant to search for weapons belonging to a suspect named Guillermo Martinez Jimenez, who lived at 189A Live Oak Road in Royal Oaks. But the sheriffs obtained and executed the warrant for 189 Live Oak Road—the house next door.

"In SWAT gear, the deputies broke down the door at 189 Live Oak Road, damaging the door frame and walls," the claim states. "Eventually the sheriff's deputies realized they had gone to the wrong house. They then obtained and executed a new warrant for 189A Live Oak Road."

In the claim, Macias and Gomez were asking for $5,800, the amount of one contractor's bid to replace the front door, casings, moldings and to repair the damaged stucco and drywall and then paint. A bathroom door, also damaged during the warrant service, also needs to be replaced and the same repairs made.

Brian Liddicoat, the attorney who filed the claim on behalf of Macias and Gomez, says while Monterey County denied the claim, he's received no contact from Santa Cruz County, where a claim also was filed.

"I think the officers at the scene, when they realized what had happened, were professionally apologetic, but I don't think there was ever any followup by either department," Liddicoat says.

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