If the Cops Mistakenly Kick Down Your Door, Who Pays for the Damage?

Ethan Trex

If the authorities knock down your door while following procedure to catch you in some nefarious act, you’ll be paying for your own door-fixing contractor. But if the cops burst in by mistake, it becomes a trickier issue.

Door image via Shutterstock

In the United Kingdom, the police pay for their errors, covering the costs on so-called “wrong door” raids. In 2009 alone, British police paid out nearly $900,000 in damages. And of the 3,607 cases included in that sum, half of them involved repairing or replacing a door.

In America, however, you might not get such charitable treatment. In 2009, police burst into a Washington, D.C. family’s home to arrest a suspect on weapons charges. The only problem was that the suspect had sold the house and moved out 18 months earlier. The police refused to pay the $3000 in damages from the botched raid because they were serving a valid warrant at the time, even if said warrant was issued erroneously.

Of course, different districts have different policies. If New York City cops mistakenly beat down your door, they’ll cover the damage. Or they’ll just show up to fix it; in 1998, the NYPD organized a special crew to replace and repair doors, locks, and windows damaged during bungled entries.

This article originally appeared in the January-February issue of mental_floss magazine.