Lawsuit claims illegal search at Fostoria home

A lawsuit seeking more than $79 million from the city of Fostoria, the Fostoria Police Department and 11 law enforcement officials was filed in U.S. District Court recently.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Fostoria residents Ernesto Gonzales, Angelica Hernandez and a minor, claims law enforcement officials obtained an illegal search warrant to search their East North Street residence in April 2012.

During the execution of the search warrant, law enforcement officials set off explosive devices outside of the residence and then entered it without notifying the residents they were law enforcement, the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit also claims the family’s dog was shot and killed in front of the residents and that an officer attempted to shoot Gonzales and the 3-year-old child in his arms. The bullets, however, were stopped by a divider that separated the living room and the kitchen. The law enforcement officer had shot a 12-gauge shotgun from the living room while Gonzales was in the kitchen, the lawsuit states.

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs are alleging the police held them at gunpoint while the search warrant was conducted and then tried to cover up what they had done by disposing of most of the shell casings left at the residence.

The lawsuit is claiming 4th and 14th Amendment violations, and cruel and unusual punishment, an 8th Amendment violation of the U.S. Constitution.

The action also is claiming emotional distress and a state tort claim of assault and battery.

According to a release issued by the Seneca County Drug Task Force – METRICH Enforcement Unit, following the search warrant, marijuana, money, criminal tools, drug paraphernalia and a substantial amount of ammunition were found at the residence.

Following the search warrant, Fostoria Police Chief John McGuire had said the dog was shot after it aggressively approached officers, according to A-T reports. The dog then was taken to a veterinarian, but the dog was unable to be saved.

Gonzales is facing charges of possession of marijuana and possession of criminal tools in Fostoria Municipal Court in connection to the search warrant.

He, Hernandez and the minor are demanding a jury trial.

METRICH Unit Coordinator Chuck Boyer said Friday evening he was unable to comment on the lawsuit.