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Police break down door of innocent woman while looking for kidnapping suspects

PITTSBURGH — A Pittsburgh woman told Channel 11 that police came to her front door with their rifles drawn because they thought a kidnapping victim was being held in the house, but they were wrong.

“It scared me to death, so I jumped up and ran," Vivian Bey said. "I’m 80 years old. There’s nobody in here but me.”

Now she tells Channel 11 she's considering taking action against the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police for what she says happened at 2 a.m. Tuesday.

"They broke in my house and busted my door open and disrupted inside of me, which is all still upset," Bey said.

Bey showed the video her doorbell camera captured outside her Homewood home only to Channel 11.

Police were looking for a woman who had been kidnapped from Monroeville and was being held for ransom. The suspects allegedly took her from her driveway Monday night, demanding money and drugs from the victim's son in exchange for her.


According to the criminal complaint, they gave the victim's son Bey's address.

The complaint went on to say the victim's son placed the money in a trash can outside the home, which is when police arrived at the house.

According to Bey, officers busted open her front door and ran inside, armed with huge guns.

“Before they said anything, they held the gun on me,” she said. "I fell because I was so upset."

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Bey told Channel 11 police screamed at her, asking where the victim was, and then took her downstairs before searching her entire house and finding nothing.

"They did not get their info right. They did not go to the right house," Bey said. "They said, 'Oh, well, we’re sorry.'"

Bey said she's not only shaken up, but there's significant damage to a door, which she told Channel 11 is worth $2,000.

Channel 11 contacted the city of Pittsburgh for a response and received this statement:

"…some SWAT and Police Officers did assist. The FBI and Monroeville PD determined the houses to search, based on information that a victim was located in that house. Public safety is always out first priority. This was a very dangerous situation with a female victim who was, thankfully, found safely."

The FBI released the following statement Wednesday:

"FBI Pittsburgh works closely with our law enforcement and intelligence partners at every level whenever requested. Our role in this investigation was to assist our law enforcement partners in any way possible.  As you know, Monroeville Police is the lead agency in this investigation and details of the investigation would have to be provided by that agency. The safety and welfare of those involved and the integrity of the investigation are always the first priorities for the FBI. I can confirm that FBI Pittsburgh did not provide input, nor was it consulted, in regards to any decisions to employ SWAT or enter a residence as part of this investigation."

This is not the first time something like this has happened.

The city is paying $80,000 to a woman whose house was mistakenly raided by a SWAT team. The City Council held a final vote Tuesday to approve that payment.

In that incident, police busted down the door of Tabatha Werkmeister's home in Brighton Heights five years ago. Her fiance and five young children were also inside.

The settlement now goes to the mayor for his signature.

On Wednesday, Channel 11 worked to get answers for Bey, first calling the Monroeville police chief to ask why police were at Bey's house. Chief Doug Cole sent the following statement, saying they believed the kidnapping victim was possibly inside.

"Based on the info we had, we believed she could have been there. We made entry using a SWAT team for everyone's safety."

"She obviously was frightened," said Beth Pettinger, who heads the Citizen Police Review Board. "She certainly can file a claim with the city's law department for any damages that may have been incurred."

Channel 11 contacted the mayor's office, which has now said the damage to Bey's front door will be paid by the city.