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City settles after raiding wrong home

Bowling Green Daily News

BOWLING GREEN -- First, they breached the front door with a battering ram. Then, Bowling Green Police Department officers ordered a Marine veteran of the Iraq War and his wife, a special education teacher, to the floor of their home and slapped handcuffs on them.

The search warrant police were executing, however, was intended for someone else.

Michael Hutchison and his wife, Stacie Hutchison, recently reached a $5,000 settlement with the city of Bowling Green for the July 11, 2016, incident. The lead detective in a fraud investigation, Jason Franks, was given a written reprimand in August for failing to exercise due diligence in verifying the home's occupants.

The settlement was reached nine months after the city's claims representatives, Mayfield-based Collins & Co. Inc., sent the Hutchisons a letter stating that the company found no negligence on the city's part and denied the couple's claim for damages.

A city representative called Michael Hutchison before he received letter, telling him he would receive a denial letter and offering on behalf of the city to pay to repair the couple's front door on the condition that the Hutchisons keep their mouths shut, Michael Hutchison said.

"I didn't think it was right," Michael Hutchison said about the nondisclosure agreement the city asked him to sign. "They didn't want us talking about it. It was saying the city wasn't at fault for what happened. The city was at fault, and it should be public knowledge. If I signed that, then nobody would know that this kind of thing happens."

Michael Hutchison repairs office electronics for a living. At the time of the raid on his home, he was assigned to repair electronic equipment at the BGPD. Franks told Hutchison after the incident that it was "unfortunate," Hutchison said. The BGPD had not, as of Friday afternoon, directly apologized to the couple.

The Hutchisons have owned their home outside the city limits in the Bristow community since January 2016, six months before the search.

One car in their driveway is registered to Michael Hutchison, while the other is registered to both Michael and Stacie. The water and electricity are in Michael Hutchison's name, he said. BGPD declined to tell the Daily News whether officers checked any of this information before the search.

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