Lawsuit claims police raided the wrong apartment

Juan Alberto Castaneda Miranda was handcuffed by police looking for drugs in July 2018.

LYNNWOOD — Juan Alberto Castaneda Miranda and his girlfriend reportedly woke to loud bangs outside their Lynnwood apartment on July 17, 2018.

Police had burst in. But according to a pair of lawsuits filed in Snohomish County Superior Court and in U.S. District Court in Seattle, the couple didn’t know why.

With guns pointed at the pair, the agents yelled at them to get out of bed.

The lawsuits allege the agents had the wrong apartment.

A claim for damages filed in July contended eight agencies were involved in the raid: the Snohomish and King County sheriff’s offices; the Lynnwood, Edmonds and Seattle police departments; the FBI; the federal Drug Enforcement Administration; and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Lynnwood police Cmdr. Coleman Langdon said in an email his department wasn’t involved in the search. Edmonds police believed the same. Spokespeople for both of the sheriff’s offices, Seattle police and the FBI declined to comment as the litigation is pending.

The then 26-year-old Castaneda Miranda showed the officers his wallet to prove they had the wrong guy. Police didn’t listen, according to the lawsuit filed in Snohomish County.

Instead, they reportedly handcuffed the couple and told him to confess about the drug cartels, the lawsuit asserts. Castaneda Miranda, a Comcast technician, says he had no idea what they were talking about. He claimed the agents once again refused to check his identification.

A federal judge authorized the search warrant four days prior, on July 13. The purpose? Locate controlled substances, drug paraphernalia and records of drug sales.

Police tore up the apartment looking for evidence tying Castaneda Miranda to drug trafficking. They came up empty.

The officers then acknowledged they were in the wrong apartment, the complaint claims. They handed him a document packet with claim forms to get reimbursement for the damages to his apartment and car. He said all of his belongings, including his vehicle, were destroyed. He said he had to move.

Castaneda Miranda’s cat was injured during the raid, according to the lawsuit. It later died.

“This tragedy was a by-product of their abuse of authority,” the lawsuit argues.

Now Castaneda Miranda is suing the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office and the Edmonds and Lynnwood police departments, as well as other unnamed police agencies and officers. The lawsuit filed in Snohomish County alleges negligence, defamation, invasion of privacy, use of excessive force in apprehending the couple, infliction of emotional distress and violation of due process. It claims Castaneda Miranda has suffered “financial loss, pain and suffering, disability, loss of enjoyment of life, embarrassment, anguish, emotional distress (and) PTSD” due to the “botched raid.” He also said he lost his girlfriend and visitation of his daughter for two years.

Castaneda Miranda’s attorney also filed a lawsuit in July against the DEA, ATF and FBI in federal court over the raid. Those agencies have asked the judge to dismiss the case.

In mid-July, his attorney filed a claim with the county demanding $200,000 in damages. The federal lawsuit claims the damages total more than $5 million.

Prosecutors ended up charging over a dozen suspects in federal court over the drug ring that led to the raid of Castaneda Miranda’s apartment. One of the defendants in that case was found to have a sizeable cache of heroin in an apartment near 202nd Street in Lynnwood, according to court documents. That’s the same street where Castaneda Miranda lived.

The heroin was found July 17, 2018.

Jake Goldstein-Street: 425-339-3439; Twitter: @GoldsteinStreet.

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