'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

rickross2

I originally replied with "*you're".......how do you feel like that made me mad? I even showed you how to use your, and you're properly, and look at this atrocity ^^^^ You call me ignorant, yet I am very well educated. My grammar is always on point, as well as my punctuation. I make jokes because I'm a funny m*therfucker.....I apologize if you're too ignorant to understand them. Relax home slice!

Lawyerintraining

Lol @rickross2 I'm with you!!!! Y A W N!!! Lost me at secondly ugh!! Write your own story for the reflector than on here....this is a blog not a book report!!!!!

unknownmess-anger

you watch people this joke of a human earl will do and say nothing except for ridicule everything i say...JUNKIE

unknownmess-anger

sorry earl i know that was a whole paragraph and you probably dont have the mental capacity to get through 8 sentences...i think sesame street has a blog...you should try that

unknownmess-anger

well let me simplify then...the only people crying police brutality are the losers that are using and selling...is that easier for you

rickross2

You're definitely a mess! Good grief, relax a little.

Lawyerintraining

Really so you brake you rant up into sections LOL LOL like rickross said chill and breath unless you are his mom...then by all means rant if he's living with you

bullydogs1971

no junkie here....just a p'ed off American that is tired of the police state and idiots like you that support it!

tee866

So only the people using and selling are complaining about how wrong this is huh?Well golly gee wiz glad to know that about myself,no the people complaining are the people that know when your rights are being ignored by the police.If you want yours ignored please feel free to go somewhere that lacks the Bill of Rights and see how well you fair.The US was lucky our founders cared enough about freedom to write them down,too bad they didn't count on people no longer caring enough about them in the future to complain when the police do wrong.

unknownmess-anger

bill of rights?...what is that?...people are worried about this guys rights while everyones rights are ignored daily...the right to fair wages...the right to health care...the right to equal opportunities...these are rights ignored everyday...and your worried about this guy? just dont get it...

rickross2

The right to health care? You're a special kind of stupid aren't you?

KindofKick

I'm not sure why people are discussing whether or not this man is on drugs or not. HCSO made a big mistake and should pay for the damages.

rickross2

Agreed. He is owed nothing other than apology though. He rents so he really isn't out anything. His mom bought his tablet that they broke. She should be mad.

somescrewyname

@unknownmess-anger, I hear your frustration with the drugs in our county. But because we are frustrated about the drugs does not mean a person with past convictions cannot be a victim. or their rights to the 4th amendment violated. You are right, we as a community need to come together to fight this drug problem, the first thing we need to understand, is the cops can't do diddly squat about the drugs, all they can do is try to enforce the laws on the books about the drugs without violating our rights as citizens, and that means taking people to jail, then these people go to court, that being the next step in this process, and then what happens? Mostly what we see in the paper is they get a little love tap and told that's a no no don't do it again.You gotta ask your self why, so you keep reading and the Judge says they are not eligible for prison. So in my humble opinion we need to change some laws or add some laws, so the courts hands are not tied, I'm all for charging drug dealer with murder if one of their clients OD's and dies, Now I'm tired of the plea bargains, they do nothing but have the dope dealer back on the streets before high noon. I posted my thoughts about drug dealers on another story and another commenter sent me a site to look at and this is what it said .....CLEVELAND - Three were convicted of reckless homicide after prosecutors said they helped to arrange a heroin sale that led to a fatal overdose......This is a step in the right direction on getting the crap out of our county. So why are our prosecutors not doing this?

unknownmess-anger

finally...someone with common sense...i will always be the first to defend our rights...it does not matter what your history is...if a bar patron leaves a bar drunk and kills someone in his vehicle the bar can be held liable, so i say why not hold the dealers accountable as well...it could be the first step to ending this...we live in a country where your guilty by association and sometimes its hard to differentiate those who are guilty from those who are not...i would never live in a duplex or triplex where my neighbors are addicts or dealers...if i choose to i have now set myself up for "guilty by association"...im all about our rights but we as citizens also have to use our brains and keep ourselves away from the things that can harm us...i would report my neighbors and keep in contact with law enforcement if i lived there for the simple fact that i do not want to be associated with any of it, and sure wouldnt want them as neighbors especially if i had small children, which i do

KURTje

Now comes the good. Upcoming election Howard will be voted out. He & his friends hamper those who try their best to serve Huron County.

earlduck

unknowingmess you posts are too long and rambling

Lawyerintraining

THANK YOU!!!! Finally someone who doesn't like long rants either.....scroll to long scroll boring scroll seriously

humpty_dumpty

First i dont know this guy to judge him but i will say congrats on being sober its not a east thing but gl to you! NEXT i think the sherriff owes this man a apology and owes to replace his broken items.Also i can see where this man has a legit reason to file a lawsuit. With that said expect a cover up on this whole thing

NWalk99

Police brutality is a global issue...@mess long ranter. Check it out on YouTube yourself. If you think junkies are the ones complaining about it - you are clearly sheltered! I don't believe anyone is defending this guy as an individual - they are defending his rights...fighting back for our rights has to start somewhere and at sometime. Hopefully, for this guy - the time will be now!

2008HD

Hum, the S O phuck up on this one. Search warrant? LOL, they probably just used a contempt warrant to get in the house like usual. If searching for an individual, they need to have a body search warrant /w the person name on the warrant. I'm surprise the bus-01 didn't call for a press news release. The Bus should pay for all damages & give the man an apology if he (the bus) is man enough to do that.

BushelBob

Humpty Dumpty sized up the prospects for this latest victim of police terrorism quite nicely. Without a video of what happened, he has no case. It took nearly a dozen lawyers and the ACLU to convince him. That said, he might approach Maurice Thompson at the 1851 Center. Thompson helped the Stowers family in neighboring Lorain County when they were attacked by a SWAT team of Lorain County Sheriff's deputies for a misdemeanor of allegedly selling organic food without a licence. John Stowers now lives in England where cops don't carry guns.

bullydogs1971

USSA!

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