Police received numerous complaints that they raided the wrong houses in Operation Caribbean Cruise, and gave the standard response that some homeowners may have been unaware of drug activity on their premises.
However, at least one homeowner -- Thomas Timberman of the 1600 block of Argonne Place NW -- can say with certainty that police got the wrong house. The warrant was for Timberman's next-door neighbor, according to a master list of houses to be raided that was obtained by The Washington Post.
Timberman, 44, a career Foreign Service officer, said he was awakened about 5 a.m. Saturday by a loud knock on his front door. When he opened the door, he said, there stood two men wearing dark clothes and carrying shotguns. He said that although they did not identify themselves, he assumed they were police.
He said they told him to go to the door of his basement apartment, where a tenant lived, and to bring some material to repair it.
He said that he found his tenant's door knocked off its frame. He said the police officers admitted that they had broken in the door but did not explain why or apologize.
"I asked them if they had been looking for drugs and they said yes," said Timberman. "Then I said, well, maybe they were looking for the Rastafarian who lives next door."
Timberman said the officers agreed.
"Then one of them wrote something on a piece of paper and gave it to me," he said. "It was a note that read: 'Dear Sir: Tonight members of the Metropolitan Police entered your house by mistake. A report is on file. You may check for repairs.' "
Timberman said his tenant, a senior officer at the State Department, was away on vacation. Unable to reach the vice official at the 4th District who was supposed to deal with damage complaints, Timberman called his contractor to replace the door, which cost $200.
"Back in early 1980, someone broke in my front door to steal something," said Timberman, a veteran of several foreign assignments, including a two-year stint in Vietnam during the war. "Until Saturday, that was the only other problem I have had here since I bought the house in 1979. So the score right now is a 1-to-1 tie between the miscreants and the police."