'I'm sitting here at gunpoint for no reason'

What happened during warrant raid in Norwalk? Deputies and residents have differing stories
Cary Ashby
Mar 30, 2014

Benedict Avenue resident John Collins freely admits his "past is a little dark."

The former heroin addict also said authorities know him "on a need-to-know basis," but for the last four to five years he's led a law-abiding life. Collins showed the Reflector a cell phone app declaring he's been sober for seven months and 15 days as of Sunday.

"I've been doing good with my sobriety," he said.

Huron County sheriff's deputies went to Collins' apartment at 114 1/2 Benedict Ave. reportedly to use a drug-related search warrant Tuesday.

However, the 26-year-old Collins said deputies had no reason to break down his door and handcuff him.

"You can ask anybody -- for the last five years, I've fallen off the map," said Collins, who refers to himself as a self-imposed hermit.

"I don't mess with nobody," added Collins, who only leaves his apartment to go to the store or stay at his mother's residence.

 

The raid

Collins was watching television on his couch just after 7 p.m. Tuesday before deputies entered his apartment. He said he faintly heard someone yell "sheriff!" and by the time he took two steps from his couch to see what was happening, four deputies entered his residence from opposite directions.

"Boom -- they came from that door," he said, indicating his front door, "and boom -- they came from that (back) door."

Collins said deputies told him to get on his stomach and spread his arms. After he complied, he was handcuffed. Later, deputies had him sit back on his couch.

"They left me lying for five to 10 minutes on my belly," Collins recalled, saying deputies searched his residence -- upstairs and downstairs -- during that time frame. "They counted all my pills."

During the search, deputies stepped on a $300 tablet and shattered the screen, Collins said.

"It still works, but I can't let my kid play with it," he said.

Also, when deputies opened the door, a moon decor with a star on top reportedly fell and broke. The decor is a memento of his son, who died still-born when his then-girlfriend was five months pregnant.

"You couldn't give me a million dollars for it. ... That is all I have left that reminds me of my kid," Collins said.

At some point, Detective Sgt. Josh Querin talked with Detective Kayla Zander outside. Collins said he demanded to know why they were there, but he was told to "shut up" and deputies referred to his apartment as a "drug house."

Collins said deputies told him: "You're under arrest for being in a drug house."

Zander later re-entered the apartment. Collins said she read him his rights and then uncuffed his hands, which had been behind his back while he was on the couch. Zander and other deputies went next door, where they arrested two residents -- a man and his mother.

While Collins said he waited inside his apartment with two deputies nearby with their guns reportedly drawn, he remembers "freaking out" and having a panic attack. He has taken anti-anxiety medication since he was a child. Collins said deputies refused to let him take any of that medicine while they waited.

"I'm sitting here at gunpoint for no reason," he remembered thinking. "All of my court fees have been paid up. I've been a law-abiding citizen for the last four years."

Collins' last trip to jail occurred in the fall, when he served a 10-day sentence for failing to undergo anger management counseling.

"The original charge was three years ago," he said.

Detectives reportedly determined Collins wasn't the male suspect they were seeking originally.

Querin reportedly apologized for what happened.

"'I'm sorry for scaring the (expletive) out of you.' That was his exact words," Collins said. "I told him, 'You didn't scare the (expletive) out of me; you scared the living piss out of me.'"

As a result of the incident, Collins no longer keeps his front shades drawn as he used to do and now sleeps at his mother's home. He is picked up by his mother every night about 8 p.m.

"Since that incident happened, I want to be able to see what happens," said Collins, who jumps at the sound of a siren now.

Collins has left messages for 10 attorneys, talked to three or four of them and has an appointment to meet with another. He also has alerted two news agencies and the ACLU.

Collins said, however, that he does not plan to file a lawsuit.

 

Neighbors nabbed

Two of Collins' next-door neighbors, Thomas M. Papp, 34, and his mother, Patricia Papp, 58, both of 114 Benedict Ave., were arrested on secret indictments that same night. Thomas Papp is charged with trafficking in oxycodone in connection with a Sept. 9, 2012 incident. His mother faces a similar felony stemming from a July 8, 2012 offense.

On Sunday, Patricia Papp and another one of her sons, Timothy, said deputies didn't have a warrant when they made the arrests.

"They didn't have the secret indictments on them. ... They're supposed to have the warrants on them," Patricia Papp said.

"Because they messed up, they had to make an arrest," her son added.

Collins, in a separate interview Sunday, said he believes deputies arrested Thomas Papp and his mother "for the purpose of being there."

Chief Deputy Ted Patrick earlier told the Reflector that while deputies were at the triplex, they received a tip that a male suspect who lives nearby -- Thomas Papp -- was wanted on a felony warrant.

Patrick could not be reached for comment Sunday.

Collins questions the logic of the sheriff's spokesman.

"How can you get a tip on a secret indictment if it's a secret indictment?," said Collins, who was unaware the Papps were wanted on warrants.

Patrick also said deputies were looking for another male suspect and while they didn't find him, they used the warrant and seized evidence that will be tested by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation. Patricia Papp said she didn't give deputies permission to search her home and they did so after she was arrested and out of the residence.

"They did an illegal search of my house," said Papp, who says deputies seized all of her medication.

The sheriff's office had a different explanation. Patrick said while officers didn't arrest the suspect they were seeking, they used the warrant to seize the evidence.

 

Was NPD there, too?

Norwalk Police Chief Dave Light had been notified beforehand that deputies would be using the warrant. He has said none of his officers were involved -- something he reaffirmed Sunday.

The Papps said they saw two Norwalk officers in blue uniforms in or near their residence Tuesday. Papp and her son said one officer was in the front lawn and in the Simply U Tanning parking lot next door and at one point, two officers were in their "living room right there by the door." They added they could tell the difference between the deputies' outfits and the Norwalk officers'.

"I just talked to (Detective Sgt.) Jim Fulton. They were doing another investigation," said Light, who called Fulton to make sure there wasn't a misunderstanding.

 

Suspect being sought

As for the man authorities were seeking Tuesday during the raid, "he comes and visits a couple times a months, but I didn't know he was wanted for anything," Patricia Papp said.

The Reflector isn't naming that suspect because the sheriff's office hasn't released his name.

The mother contests deputies' allegation they have a video recording or photograph of the male suspect leaving the front of her residence.

"As far as I know, he (always) came through the back door," Papp said.

Collins said he doesn't know the 41-year-old man personally.

"I know of him," said Collins, who last talked with the suspect in January. "He doesn't even live here in Norwalk."

Collins, quoting Detective Zander, said authorities thought he and the suspect "look alike from a distance."

Collins, who is about 5-foot-9 and weighs roughly 165 pounds, refuted Zander's claim, saying the other man is 5 feet 4 or 5 inches tall and weighs nearly 130 pounds.

"He's real small; he's a petite dude. (He's) clean shaven," added Collins, who has brown hair and a beard.

Comments

howcanthisbe

Amen to that! Better his house than mine because I will shoot first and ask questions later you come into my home. This is the USA and we have every right to defend ourselves against anyone!

rickross2

They come in with guns in hand. You wouldn't even be able to slightly raise a gun without getting lit up, you're delusional!

rickross2

He would have raised his weapon and had 7 Sheriffs open fire on him. That's the end of his story.

Mr Spock

NSO lies and makes up stories to get their way.I no longer have any respect for any so called law enforcement officer. This isn't Irac you fools this is the UNITED STATES get over your reserve tour bull and realize that. Why lie if your wrong admit it. Police today aren't anything like police of yesterday.more like storm troupers just wanting to kill somebody. LOOK WHAT HAPPENED IN CLEVELAND could it happen in good ole Norwalk?

JACKEL

Look what happened in Seattle during WTO. The policeman next door in a riot situations becomes a different person entirely !The National Guard will fire on its own people ! Kent State, right or wrong they will do it !

AnAmerican

They were warned by officials that the person they were there to bust, who was listed on the warrant, was not the resident. Warned in advance, repeatedly.

rkovach

This makes me feel so much better about norwalk's finest!!! John, you should do something. Congrats on your sobriety i am proud of you!!!!

TuffNutts2011

He for sure doesnt look clean in the photos.

rickross2

That's what I thought. But I wasn't gonna be a d!ck about it.

Whoopball

Why bother doing drug tests when they could just send instagram shots to you?

rickross2

Nice^^

Mr. Touchdown

I'm sure if anyone goes in front of Conway & says they have a cell phone app. that says they been sober for 7 months that it would be as good as a get out of jail free card.I bet he'd even let em skip the cbcf.

HuronRiverbilly

If the only time he leaves his apartment is for groceries or to see his momma, then he must not have a job. I am getting real tired of working my butt off everyday to help support people like this.

shovelhead

Job...no job, doesn't matter. 3,000 people are out of work in Huron County. Howard needs to make this situation right. These guys have no right to bust into anyone's house like that....unannounced.

Lawyerintraining

Job hummmm that could mean a lot of things...I have scene Collins on facebooks garage sale sites selling clothing etc. so maybe this is how he makes money....don't judge for what you don't know and as for tats maybe he's had them for years not like there time stamped geese.... Even if you back someone up or kick them to the curb...I wouldn't want any persons from this town ever being on a jury for me you have this man convicted on circumstantial evidence ALREADY!!! so if we are going to quote wars and the government then remember INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY!!!! But not in this town it's guilty until you can prove an officer wrong...and in this case the officer said sorry which means they cops were in the wrong....when these message boards were not here you had to write to the reflector forum with your name how many on here are willing to do it the old way or a code name followed by your real name....and continue to put up your opinions...this site would have maybe a dozen if..so next time your facing an officer HOPE!!! Someone has your back and not a computer to trash you....we are all innocent in our heads right???

Ehovemom

Glad to see someone else has questions about Mr. Collins. I remember his name as a frequent flier in the court system. I am not sure an "app" proves anything. And I wondered how he pays rent if all he does is buy groceries (food stamps?) and goes to his mothers. Everyone is jumping on law enforcement, but where there is smoke there is fire. If you are a recovering addict, maybe you should not live in a building where the other two apartments have drug warrants. He says that they told him he was under arrest for being in a drug house. It seems like that might have been correct! And it is great he has lots of time to contact attorneys and figure out how he can sue for more tax payer money. It was great that he called the newspapers to give his side of the story, too.

HuronRiverbilly

Touche Ehovemom!!

AnAmerican

Typical of you. This man has committed no crime and was not the subject or point of interest for the warrant or bust, yet YOU decide to DEFLECT from the issue at hand.

You are a sycophant. It is time you and other minions of this administration take off your blinders and see this administration for what it (he) is.

AnAmerican

"It was great that he called the newspapers to give his side of the story, too."

And how many times has the Sheriff called the newspapers for every little itty bitty pot/drug user's arrest? Interesting how your beloved Sheriff didn't issue his usual press release for this "episode".

shovelhead

You are correct. If you are on food stamps, metro housing, and have a record.....you deserve to have your doors bashed in and you're civil rights violated. Hear that people?.....only the perfect one's are not going to be violated.

unknownmess-anger

i agree ehovemom but there is one thing i cant agree with you on and its this...who cares about how he pays his rent...drug testing for welfare recipients is coming soon...thank goodness...then tax payers like you and myself will no longer foot the bill for these losers.(drug addicts, not the poor)...your right when you say he should have moved...i dont buy the excuse im poor and cant afford it, because they have no problems ever getting new homes when their evicted from the ones they live in now...this guy needs to get over it disassociate himself and distance himself from any drug activity...if he doesnt, i dont care what his "app" says,he has no chance...but then again...i guess if its on the web its gotta be true right?...i hear people are meeting french models on there

itsnotme

I was thinking the same thing...how does a cell phone "app" prove he's been sober?? If he has been, that's great, but showing someone an "app" proves nothing.

farm01

In 1996 when my son died, hc sheriff told me, "this is my county and i will do whatever i want". They do whatever they want and never face consequences. Like when they go to office bar, drink, and then they drive themselves home. Double standard For them but not us citizens. Hope someone finds a lawyer to wake them up.

.Kay.

Amen to that!

WATCHED_1s

Ok there are a few twists here. He said he has been a law abiding citizen for the past 4 years but has only been sober for 7 months? So then he has only been a law abiding citizen for 7 months. YES the cops did wrong and should fix what they damaged! But this guy needs to get a job and either stop living off the system or being a drug dealer. He has a nice phone and a roof over his head. Well that stuff isn't free. The system is wrong on both sides if you ask me. Twisted cops and freeloaders.

TakingCrap

Regardless if it was a valid search warrant or if they had the wrong address either requesting it or executing it, they should replace the items they broke and pay for any receipts for repairing damaged property. If it had been a valid search, I don't think they should have to pay for repairing the doors, but I would hope that if he is never found guilty on charges related to the cause of the search that they would be on the hook to at least restore his property to how they found it.

rickross2

He deserves to not work and sit around having mommy do his running around for him. He was a victim of drug addiction. It's a disease you know, it's not his fault. He was a good guy doing community service for the elderly when some jerk ran by and shot him up with heroin. Such a sad story....poor guy.

That being said, the cops are in the wrong, they should have to reimburse his mom for the IPad, and fix the doors that are owned by the guy his mom pays rent to. He personally deserves nothing.

rickross2

If he's really been sober for 7 months, he deserves a handshake and a attaboy I guess.

earlduck

we can't tolerate local cops that search wrong places,I don't think oops!!! is good enough excuse for breaking into the wrong home

somescrewyname

Fourth Amendment - Search and Seizure
A SHOW OF HANDS HOW MANY WANT TO GIVE UP THIS RIGHT ?
ALSO THIS RIGHT IS NOT BASED ON WHETHER YOU HAVE A CRIMINAL BACKGROUND.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

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