Lamberti Issues Statement To Broward Judge In Wrong-House Raid

DEERFIELD BEACH (CBS4)- Broward County Sheriff Al Lamberti issued the apology Friday regarding the incident with Broward Circuit Judge Ilona Holmes on Easter Sunday at her sister’s Deerfield Beach home, but the judge’s sister and attorney said the police report doesn’t reflect what happened.

Lamberti said he regrets the weekend incident in which his deputies got into a tense confrontation with the armed judge.

Lamberti said deputies were responding to a burglary-in-progress call but were given incorrect address information by the caller. They surrounded the house where Holmes’ family was having Easter dinner.

A police report said Holmes came outside, identified herself as a judge and told deputies she was armed with a revolver. She initially refused orders to put the gun down but eventually did.

Former US Attorney Kendall Coffey spoke for Judge Holmes, who was not at a news conference held and who has declined to speak with reporters since the incident at her sister Carmita Scarlett’s Deerfield Beach home.

The police report made it clear the BSO officer writing it believed the Judge was argumentative and uncooperative, and Coffey said that doesn’t reflect what happened.

“We think that it’s unfortunate that anyone would portray this very judicious person, one of the most respected judges in the court, as some kind of gun-toting, confrontational judge,” Coffey said.

Coffey read a statement he said came from the Broward Sheriff’s Office, saying it read in part, “We deeply regret that Judge Holmes and her family went through this experience, and understand that this experience, resulting from a series of unfortunate events, may have been traumatic to the family.”

Coffey said Holmes appreciates Sheriff Al Lamberti is looking into the matter, saying errors like the one at Scarlett’s home are not only dangerous for police officers, but potentially dangerous to the people who live in the homes.

Lamberti says the incident is being reviewed to see if proper procedures were followed.

Meanwhile, the attorney for Holmes said Friday that they have no plans to take action against BSO or the deputies involved, and wants to put the issue behind her.

However, the sister whose home she was visiting the night of the wrong-house police action last Easter Sunday expressed anger at the way she and her sister were treated, hinting that it was racially motivated and rooted in serious problems with BSO procedure.

Officers at first appeared to threat Scarlett, Holmes, and others in the house as suspects.

The police report of the incident claims Judge Homes was confrontational., and didn’t follow police requests.

Coffey denied that Friday, and said the judge identified herself, explained she had a weapon, and placed it on the ground, later adding a cell phone she was carrying.

The police report said Homes was asked to sit on the ground, and refused. According to the report she stated, “There’s no way I was going to sit on the ground, you’d have to shoot me to get me to sit on the ground tonight.”

Speaking at the front door of her sister’s home, backed by family members and neighbors, Coffey said it happened differently.

“The officers say, ‘get away from the gun’, she then stands back. That’s it. That’s not a confrontation. That’s a thoughtful, judicious person who knows the law, who respects police authority, and is doing exactly what she should have been doing,” Coffey said.

Coffey said Homes has made a “definitive” decision not to sue BSO over the incident, saying, “she has great respect for the dedicated men and women of the Broward Sheriff’s Office, and when Monday morning comes around, this matter will be behind her.”

However, it may not be behind her sister. Angry at times, she told reporters that deputies responding to the call mistreated her and her family.

“They weren’t forthcoming with an apology, they treated us with disrespect,” said Scarlett. She said an officer pointed a gun at her window, as she stood there, without identifying himself.

“I yelled to my sister the exact words I said. There’s a man with a gun, and he’s going to shoot me.”

She claimed everybody was yelling, and “It seemed like there was a whole lot of testosterone going on.”

As to the official version of events in the police report, Scarlett was blunt.

“They lied,” she said. “They told an untruth.”

“It was like you were wrong, and they were right, and no apology was going to take place at all.”

Asked why she believes she was treated badly, Scarlett said, “They were in black town. Black neighborhood, black family.”

“They need sensitivity classes, very much so.”

While Coffey stood by as Scarlett spoke, he pointed out more than once that he did not represent her, that she did not speak for his client, and that Scarlett was sharing her own opinions.

BSO deputies did not find a burglar that night, and no arrests were made.

  • Michele

    It’s my belief that upon the Judge identifying herself the police realize they used poor judgement and falsified their report to justify their action. I hate to say and for those that refuse to believe it police lie just like civilians. Remember these are civilian before officer. they were not born into a police uniform. No is the words hat proceds from their mouth is the holy bible. In this case and most cases they concoct a story to justify ther hostility towards suspects and the innocent.

  • manny296

    THis is proof that the officials in charge do not respect the Constitution of United States. The officials who caused this big error were probably drunk and/or undert he influence of some type of drugs. The police are trained to lie on all their reports. This is not the first time police were caught lying. And just think the police do not want people video taping them because then they can not lie and hide their crimes.

  • Felix

    This is the oldest story in the books. Police have been lying for years. In just about every case, if they don’t lie outright, they “twist the truth” just enough to make their case stronger. Because when you get to court, it’s your word against theirs. Since they wear the badge, you lose. Unless you are someone prominent or have alot of money to actually have a real investigation, you’re out of luck. The average poor man is always screwed. If it’s in Miami, WATCH OUT. Those are the real pros at that.

  • abootnkiki

    what is funny though is that “most” of the time they get a “white ” lawyer to represent them in any racist civil lawsuit they bring on.”why is that?”

  • ljsierra

    To the ignorant Monday morning quarterbacks…maybe next time the police should approach a burglary in progress with flowers and cupcakes. That should make you all feel warm & fuzzy.

  • Jimmon Watson

    “Ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.” – James Baldwin. Justice was designed to be the ally of the hurt, the support system of those who could not defend themselves, and the law of the land. Justice should never be regarded as abusive power or an entity that is wielded blindly at stereotypes in hopes of emancipating those that feel threatened by lack of knowledge or plain ignorance. To seek is to search for and know and when one becomes a seeker or is a position of authority that requires seeking, in order that they may know, the expectation is greater.

    Recently, my family encountered a situation that breached trust and caused embarrassment to innocent people. What initially upset me about this version of so called justice was the ignorance of law enforcement and the way in which the situation was handled. As with any position of power, you must gain the respect and trust of those that you are entrusted to protect in order to be effective in your assignment. I believe that the implications of this faux pas go far beyond a mere case of “mix ups” or “mistaken identity.” The implications have created degenerated trust between BSO and citizens. Trust in a community where law abiding citizens of good moral ethics and phenomenal character live. My family did nothing to warrant the treatment that they received. They were harassed and held at gun point and it is not feasible to believe that mistakes of this magnitude are acceptable.

    The impracticability of BSO’s (Broward County Sherriff’s Office) law enforcement speaks not only of their leadership, but of those that they employ. When a circuit court judge, and her family are held at gun point, (even after telling law enforcement who they are) the only logical, and reasonable explanation for this “so called” attentiveness to the assigned task becomes nothing more than failure to pay attention, ignorance, and lack of general common sense/good judgment. The greater issue of this case is the question of how many times has this happened to other innocent law abiding citizens? What becomes of those who do not have the means to fight law enforcement “faux pas” and ignorant mistakes? Initially, I started my comment with a quote about power and ignorance made by James Baldwin. The quote speaks of what becomes of ignorance when it is joined with power. The epitome of this quote is a direct display of what occurred on Easter Sunday April 24, 2011 at my home.

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