Texas police chief on leave after SWAT raids wrong house in search of suspect falsely accused of murder
A Texas police chief is on leave after a SWAT team raided the wrong home earlier this month while searching for a teenager who was falsely accused of murder.
Galveston Police Chief Doug Balli was placed on a 10-day administrative leave while an internal investigation is conducted. The City of Galveston is doing a separate investigation into the lapse of communication that led to the raid.
A family was alarmed on Jan. 22 by the sound of rubber bullets flying through their doors and windows in the middle of the night. The family began panicking as the Galveston Police SWAT team was standing outside their door.
Home security footage shows the four family members walking out of the home slowly with their hands up. They were detained by officers without knowledge of why SWAT had even shown up.
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“I literally kept asking my son, ‘What is going on? What is going on?’ I had no idea,” Erika Rios told FOX 26. “And he’s like, ‘Mom, I don’t know, I don’t know.’ We were just in a panic.”
Rios’ daughter Chelsea was put in the back of a patrol car by herself.
“I was in there for a couple minutes,” Chelsea said. “I was still having anxiety attacks, and I needed to throw up. They let me step out, and they then told me they were only looking for Cameron, nothing else.”
The suspect was 17-year-old Cameron Vargas, who had an arrest warrant in connection with the Jan. 20 murder of Malik Dunn. But since the raid was executed at the wrong home, Vargas was not there.
Vargas was later arrested and held on a $250,000 bond. Investigators eventually realized Vargas was not the murderer, and his charges were dropped on Jan. 25.
“We are completely disappointed in our police department and in their investigative process,” Vargas’ mother, Terry Borrell, wrote in a statement to FOX 26. “This has been a traumatizing experience that no one should ever go through. We are glad our son’s innocence was proven, but he should have not spent one second in jail. Cameron is an amazing and respectful young man and did not deserve to be slandered and wrongfully accused or even seen as a suspect.”
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“The police wasted valuable time and resources on the wrong person,” she continued. “I hope that for the victim’s sake, and his family, they find the real murderer and go after the real criminals who lied to police and wrongfully accused my son.”
No further arrests have been made in connection with Dunn’s murder.