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NYPD Policies Blamed in Botched Drug Raid Death

May 31, 2003|From Associated Press

NEW YORK — Police failed to communicate properly before a botched raid on a Harlem apartment that left a 57-year-old woman dead, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Friday.

Alberta Spruill went into cardiac arrest after the May 16 raid, during which officers broke down her door, set off a flash grenade and placed her in handcuffs. A police informant wrongly identified her apartment as one used by an armed drug dealer to stash cocaine and heroin.

An internal department report released Friday said that police did not conduct surveillance on Spruill's apartment to verify an informant's tip.

The man suspected of being a drug dealer had been arrested four days earlier, the report said.

But precinct officers who initiated the raid did not tell that to the elite squad that was first through the door.

Kelly said the department is revamping its policies in approving search warrants. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg apologized for Spruill's death. Her family told the city it intends to sue.

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