BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Update: 2/10
Buffalo Common Council President Darius Pridgen is calling for a review of the Buffalo Police Department’s policy regarding bounty hunters and their rights.
Pridgen says he has some serious concerns.
“Generally, I’m very concerned,” Pridgen said. “If bail bondsman are allowed to do what our local police department can not do—and that is to enter a house without a warrant….from what I’m being told, it could be any house.”
Meanwhile, the Bail Bond company out of Lebanon, Pennsylvania saying in part:
“When credible information is received concerning the fugitive’s whereabouts, agents work with local police to locate and detain the fugitive.”
A source with the Buffalo Police Department says “there is no policy regarding bounty hunters and police involvement.”
With guns drawn in the middle of a cold winter’s night, home security video captures armed bounty hunters with their fingers on the trigger, pointing a gun at Seneca Babcock resident Jake Reinhardt on his property on Oakdale Place.
“Up until that point I thought there was a mistaken address,” he said.”
Barefoot and barely clothed, Reinhardt says he was ordered to leave his home. In the surveillance video, you can see him walking out on the porch, visibly shaken. On video, he lets the bounty hunters know his three year old daughter and wife are in the back room sleeping.
The bounty hunters, who Reinhardt says are from out of state point a gun at him as he orders them to put the gun down.
They then ask where his relative is.
“The person they’re looking for does not reside here, does not live in this house has never lived here,” he said.
Still, the hunters enter the home anyway. Reinhardt can be heard asking if they have a warrant.
“Can I see it?” He said.
But they ask him to step aside, not producing any paperwork, instead walking through the home with guns drawn.
In the back room, his wife, who is eight months pregnant and their young daughter.
What’s more troubling, Reinhardt says he saw two Buffalo Police Officers looking on, and thinks the search is official police business. He can be heard on video asking the bounty hunters if they’re Buffalo Police.
The raid didn’t stop there. Video shows the armed men going upstairs to his tenant’s apartment where there were other children, including a baby. This time, the armed men were caught on baby camera with their guns drawn, storming the house.
While this is going on, two Buffalo Police Officers stand on Reinhardt’s porch. They can be heard questioning what agency the bounty hunters are with.
“I don’t even know what agency that is either,” one officer said. “Me neither,” said the other. “I think they’re from PA.”
When they don’t turn up who they’re looking for, the bounty hunters and police leave.
R. Anthony Rupp III is representing Reinhardt in a civil lawsuit filed in U.S. Federal Court for Civil Rights violations.
“This is the absolute worst I’ve ever seen” Rupp said.
The Buffalo Police Department will not comment because of pending litigation.
Reinhardt says he feels violated and unsafe in his own home. He wants answers from the unidentified men, the police and the city.
Erie County District Attorney John Flynn is investigating this incident.