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.