(CNN)Three Metro Nashville police officers have had their law enforcement powers restricted after they improperly forced open the door of a family's home Tuesday around dawn, Interim Police Chief John Drake said.
Nashville officers' policing powers suspended after they forced open the door of the wrong house
The officers who've been decommissioned announced themselves, then began using a battering ram as they executed a warrant in search of evidence connected to a teenager wanted in a property crimes investigation, Drake said Wednesday at a news conference. They were not there for a violent criminal or drug raid, he added.
Officials later learned the teenager had not lived at that address in several months, he said. No one was injured in the incident.
"In all candor, this shouldn't have happened," Drake said. "This mother and her children should not have been subjected to this type of behavior from a police department."
The case comes as police actions and policies across the United States are under scrutiny following the in-custody death in Minneapolis of George Floyd. The Metro Nashville department has tightened its search warrant rules following the episode.
Decommissioning is a non-disciplinary, administrative action that temporarily removes an officer's policing authority, the force's online manual states. CNN has reached out to the three officers and the union for comment.
The officers were operating on "stale information" when they knocked on the door of the apartment just after 6 a.m., Drake said.
In body-camera footage that the chief said "greatly disturbed" him, the officers announce themselves and pound on the door before they begin forcing it open with a battering ram.
A young woman can be heard inside the home talking to the officers as they breach the door. "What is going on?" she asks. As police continue forcing the door open, she screams, "I don't have any clothes on!"
The woman also tells officers that there are children inside the home. Updated information shows that the family had been living at the address for at least four months, Drake said.
"Even as the mother approached the door and you can hear her comments, having communications with the officers, we can't come to the conclusion on why they couldn't have given her a little more time at 6:05 a.m.," he said.
"It's reasonable to believe that anyone at 6:05 could be (a)sleep, could need time to get dressed, assess whatever was going on. For whatever reason, that wasn't provided."
Drake said the officers could have used traditional surveillance methods to see if the person they were looking for still stayed at the property.
"One thing I have talked about at least for the last month is deescalate, deescalate, deescalate," he said. "And in this particular situation, we didn't deescalate, we (are) actually escalating in my opinion, and we could have prevented this."
The Office of Professional Accountability will conduct an investigation into the incident.
This episode has spawned immediate changes in the department.
From now on, any search warrant must be approved at the executive level by a deputy chief, Drake said. All crime suppression unit teams will also go through refresher training to review search warrant criteria and surveillance tactics, he said.
Asked if he had a message for the family, Drake said: "We deeply regret this incident. From the bottom of my heart and the bottom of the heart of this police department. This is not what we stand for."
The police department has reached out to the family to offer them any support that they need, he added.