Standoff stories differ

Police: ‘exigent circumstances’ called for immediate action


Last week, the Herald reported on an incident in Rockville Centre in which a Nassau County Police Department SWAT team forcibly entered a home on Old Mill Court after the village Police Department received a tip about a man with a gun inside.

According to eyewitnesses, however, the Rockville Centre Police Department’s account of what happened doesn’t match what they saw.

According to what village police officials told the Herald, they received a tip from a reliable source that a man in the Old Mill Court complex had a gun. When officers arrived at the scene, they said, the man and two others fled into an apartment. Police later learned that a woman and a baby were inside as well. Police said that none of the men lived in the apartment.

But according to its resident, Cathy Mitchell, who was not at home at the time, that was not what happened. The three men were her son and two of his friends, and there was no gun. “My son was in the house with his baby, his girlfriend, my daughter and his girlfriend’s friend,” Mitchell said. “My 15-year-old daughter tried to leave, but couldn’t.”

Mitchell’s daughter couldn’t leave, she said, because RVCPD officers were arresting her son’s two friends on Mitchell’s stoop after they voluntarily came out of the apartment, but her son remained inside. Video taken by a witness shows the two men face-down on the stoop, asking the police what they had done while they were being handcuffed and an officer searched a bag. In the short video, the officers did not answer.

Other residents of the complex said they saw what was going on and called Mitchell’s son. He then called his mother, and she told him not to go out while she called a lawyer. “My son notified me right away,” she said. “I was in Brooklyn, at my other son’s basketball game. I told them not to go outside.”

Because Mitchell’s son would not come out — and because RVCPD officers had been told not only about the gun, but about the baby, they called in the county SWAT unit, and the standoff began.

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