“When I came to it, someone’s pulling me out of bed and to the floor”
April 3, 2014
Two students from the University of Utah woke up to police standing over their beds last weekend after officers entered their residence without a warrant.
According to the Unified Police Department, officers were called out to investigate an open apartment door early Saturday morning.
“We received a call from a neighbor concerned that this apartment door was wide open,” Lt. Justin Hoyal told Fox 13 News.
Hoyal claims that three officers announced themselves several times to no avail, leading them to enter the apartment.
“I just wake up to an officer with a flashlight and Taser,” resident Ben Mertlich said.
Mertlich’s roommate experienced an even more frightening encounter, waking up to officers pulling him off his bed.
“When I came to it, someone’s pulling me out of bed and to the floor,” roommate Ramiro Aguirre said.
Mertlich argued that the officers then took things too far by handcuffing and interrogating them in their living room.
“As soon as you see the situation, a guy in his underwear in bed, it’s pretty obvious he’s not a burglar,” Mertlich said.
Hoyal defended the officers’ actions, claiming that the roommates needed to be handcuffed and interrogated. Hoyal also accused the startled roommates of being “belligerent,” pointing to a middle finger given by Aguirre.
“The officer was asking the individual in bed to show his hands were he could see him; he brought it out and flipped the officer off,” Hoyal said.
According to Aguirre, the last person he expected to be waking him up and dragging him out of bed was the police.
“Well I’m asleep in my own house at 3 in the morning, I didn’t know it was a cop, I thought it was one of my friends playing a joke,” Aguirre said.
Mertlich says he tried to explain to officers that their door was in the process of being fixed, a point officers reportedly ignored.
“We explained the door was open because the latch was broken and they didn’t seem to really care,” Mertlich said.
Officers eventually freed the pair and left the residence, leaving the roommates shaken.
“It’s pretty vulnerable to be in that position. You have nothing, you have no defense,” Mertlich said.
The roommates are said to be looking into legal representation.
While the officers’ actions are debated, a similar incident recently happened in the state as well.
Last year, police walked into a family’s home and began harassing them all because their garage door was open at night.
“He was just treating us as though we were criminals,” the homeowner said. “I couldn’t see his badge.”