Center Police reach settlement in wrongful search lawsuit

CENTER, TX (KTRE) - Center Police and an estranged couple have reached a settlement agreement in a lawsuit over a wrongful search.

According to federal court records, an agreement was reached in a mediation on July 19.

Marilyn and Stephen Fields sued 11 members of Center Police following a January raid on what ended up being at the wrong home during a service of a search warrant.

According to a complaint filed in federal court by Nacogdoches attorney Curtis Stuckey, Detectives Ricky King, Stephen Stroud, John Welch and Joey Haley, Sgt. Scott Burkhalter, Officers Chris Knowlton, Jeremy Konderla, Steven Thornburgh and David Haley and two unknown Center Police employees raided the home, located on County Road 2231 in Center on Jan. 7.

The complaint said Marilyn Fields was visiting with her estranged husband around 7:30 p.m. when they saw "a hoard of gun toting intruders running around outside the mobile home. This hoard of gun toting intruders barged inside and Plaintiffs were separated from each other and handcuffed.

The complaint details how Marilyn Fields got on her knees and prayed because the guns were drawn on the Fields and the police began pulling stuff out of bedrooms, pulling covers off the sofa and "basically ransacked the house."

"Defendants stayed at the home for about 30 minutes before their light bulbs came on and they realized that they were at the wrong house," according to the complaint.

Marilyn Fields had to go to the hospital the next day from a panic attack and "her blood pressure was completely out of control."

The complaint said the police actually went to the wrong mobile home and would have been at the correct one, had they followed directions on the search warrant.

Attorneys from neither party commented on terms of the settlement, but Stuckey said, "it's a shame they went to the wrong house."

"Nobody admitted to liability," said the defendants' attorney, Bob Alderman. "The parties agreed to compromise the suit."

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