Broward News

Hollywood Cops Allegedly Barged Into Wrong Home, Pointed Guns at Man's Head

Police work is inherently difficult. Cops need to balance competing cases, are occasionally threatened, and must make decisions each day that will permanently affect the people they deal with. It's a job that requires level-headedness, emotional resolve, and vast amounts of bravery.

The job also requires getting addresses right. In a lawsuit filed last week in federal court, former Hollywood resident Chris John Christenson claims that after a resident in his condominium complex called to report a domestic violence incident, four Hollywood cops barged into Christenson's home, slammed a door onto his torso, illegally searched his house, and pointed guns at his head  — until they realized they had the wrong home.

Emergency-dispatch problems have been a media pet issue as of late, especially since investigative satirist John Oliver spent 20 minutes on his show Last Week Tonight outlining all the ways in which 911 dispatch operators can easily screw up a location and accidentally leave you to die for hours. Despite the fact that your Uber driver can find you within seconds, it's apparently next-to-impossible for 911 operators, who are armed with outdated technology optimized for landlines, to even find cell phones, especially when a phone is in a multifloor building:

Dispatch slip-ups can lead to other problems. As we covered yesterday, one alleged mistake at the hands of the Broward Sheriff's Office 911 dispatch — which sends out messages to cops across the countycost one 32-year-old father, Eduarduo Prieto Jr., his life. Prieto had shoplifted at a Hallandale Beach Walmart and escaped after flashing a pocket knife at security. Somehow, the dispatcher ended up telling police Prieto was armed with a gun, and he was ultimately shot to death. No gun was found, and the family has since filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against BSO, the City of Hallandale Beach, and Walmart.

After police wrongly came to his apartment instead of a neighbor's in 2012, Chris John Christenson last week sued the City of Hollywood for false arrest/false imprisonment, trespassing, invasion of privacy, negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligence, battery, and assault. He's also suing four individual cops for false arrest, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and conducting an illegal search.

According to Christenson's suit, a couple living in his Ocean Drive condominium complex seemed to be having some domestic violence issues four years ago. On June 9, 2012, the department apparently got a call from the couple, who lived in unit 329. But when police arrived, they knocked at unit 309 — Christenson's apartment — by mistake. Upon realizing the mixup, the cops simply left, the suit says. Christenson later spoke with Hollywood Police who, according to the suit, said the department "would take measures to ensure that the incident would not be repeated."

But on July 23 of that year, a woman from apartment 329 called 911 and stated, "Don't hurt me, don't hurt me" and "Please, calm down."

This time, four Hollywood cops charged out. The suit alleges the cops went right to Christenson's door again and began banging on it with their fists. When Christenson woke up and unlatched the door, the cops allegedly slammed it open, smacking Christenson "in the torso and right side of his body."

The police then "rushed in brandishing their guns, pointed them at [Christenson] and detained him," the suit says.

Through his lawyer, Christenson declined to speak to New Times. But his lawyer, Gary Kollin — who himself claimed he was illegally detained by a BSO deputy in 2013 — says his client was "knocked back, and went down on one knee. They told him to 'stick 'em up,' and pointed their guns at him."

Hollywood Police did not respond to a message from New Times as of presstime. We'll update the post if we hear back.

With Christenson bewildered and detained at gunpoint, the cops then swept through the house, looking for signs of a skirmish. As Christenson tried to explain that the police had already accidentally been to his house once, he was allegedly "told to shut up and he was threatened with being tasered."

The suit alleges that one of the cops, without permission, started opening up Christenson's drawers. In one, Christenson says he legally kept several guns. The suit alleges the cops then seized the weapons, as one officer shouted "Guns!"

At this, the remaining officers then pointed their guns straight at Christenson's head.

After Christenson showed the cops his concealed-firearms permit, they lowered their weapons. But attorney Kollin says the sight of three police guns trained on his head was permanently scarring. 

"There was one who had a gun pointing at his head," Kollin said. "His hand was shaking; his finger was off the finger guard and on the trigger." Now, Kollin says, his client is "always concerned when there's an officer around, especially in a nondriving situation. When he’s approximate to police officers, he’s questioning, he doesn’t want to stay there, and he goes away quickly." Kollin says his client has since moved to Tamarac.

Christenson claims the police left without apologizing.