Richland County couple claims sheriff's drug unit hit wrong house

Published: Oct. 21, 2011 at 6:48 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 31, 2011 at 6:49 PM EDT
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PONTIAC, SC  (WIS) – A Gibbs Road couple came home from work Thursday to find their home surrounded by Richland County sheriff's deputies, their front door kicked in and their home ransacked.

Deputies were executing a search warrant at Wanda and Reginald Blanding's home Thursday, after drug agents said a confidential informant "made a controlled purchase of crack cocaine from an unknown black male at the location," according to the search warrant.

"He hit the door right here with it," explained Wanda. "He still had the ram jack in his hand when I walked up."

The informant told investigators the drug buy was made at 402 Gibbs Road. That's where the sheriff's drug unit staged its raid, looking into the one drug purchase the informant alleges happened there.

"They told me why they were here and I was like, 'Okay, no one is supposed to be here. No one sells drugs out of this house,'" said Wanda.

Reginald is the only black male that lives at the home. He says when he arrived after the raid, deputies never searched him for drugs and never asked to look through his two cell phones even though the search warrant states that's one of the things deputies were after.

Reginald says deputies told him they had his house under surveillance and know the drug buy went down.

The Blandings deny there ever was a drug buy at their home and think deputies got bad information from their informant.

Wanda says deputies emptied nearly every drawer in the home, searched through the attic and their daughter's bedrooms.

Sheriff's Capt. Chris Cowan says deputies made a purchase from the home and had every right to search it. "The drugs that we purchase were out of that home, we purchased from a family member of that home," said Cowan. "We purchased the drugs out of that home."

The only people who live there are the Blandings and their three high school-aged daughters.

When asked if enough due diligence was done in preparation for the raid, Cowan said the officers did everything they were supposed to do.

Meanwhile, the Blandings, who have been married for 20 years, say they both have clean records. Wanda has been a corrections employee for 21 years and Reginald has worked for Pepsi for just as long. Both say they have never gone near drugs and don't allow them in their home.

"This is humiliation," said Wanda. "I mean, come in, I can see the door, go through my room, clothes and everything all over the place. I mean, they went through every room in the house and just tore it up."

Wanda and Reginald just want an apology and their door to be fixed.

"Evidently they made a mistake and instead of them saying we're sorry, or they just didn't show no remorse, it was like, okay, we're the police and we're going to do what we want to do and that's just the way it is."

The sheriff's office says an apology is just not happening, and they'll continue investigating this case until they make an arrest.

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