Couple Sues Buffalo Police after Armed Bounty Hunters Raid Home

A screenshot of video from the homeowner's surveillance camera, as provided to The Buffalo News by his lawyer. Photo Source: Screenshot of video from Jake Reinhardt's surveillance camera. (The Buffalo News via Reinhardt's lawyer)

A New York couple has filed a lawsuit against the city of Buffalo, its police commissioner, and other agencies after they were victims of a home raid carried out by armed bounty hunters.

The raid happened last month at a property owned by the victim, Jake Reinhardt. The property is a two-family dwelling with Reinhardt, his 8-month pregnant fiancée, and their three-year-old daughter living in one unit while Reinhardt’s tenants live in the upstairs unit.

In surveillance footage captured that evening, two Pennsylvania bounty hunters and police officers can be seen pulling into the residence and walking up to the front steps of the home. The bounty hunters begin to pound on the door while two police officers stand several feet away at the foot of the residence. In the footage, the two bounty hunters can be seen holding a shotgun and a semi-automatic AR-15. After one of the bounty hunters peers through a window, the other pounds on the door and can be heard yelling, "Open it up or we'll kick it in!"

When Reinhardt opens the door, he appears visibly alarmed and confused. The bounty hunters point their weapons at Reinhardt and a heated discussion ensues. The footage shows the bounty hunters entering the residence while the police officers linger outside the doorway. In the footage, Reinhardt can be heard asking if the bounty hunters have a search warrant they can show him. At no point do the bounty hunters show any documentation; instead, they enter the residence with their guns drawn.

Reinhardt can then be heard saying, "Listen, my 3-year-old daughter is in there, my wife is in the back room sleeping." Reinhardt adds, "Please put that gun down. You're pointing that gun at me. Please put the gun down. Please put the barrel of the gun down."

Rinehardt alleges that when the bounty hunters entered the residence, they pointed their weapons at his pregnant fiancée and their child. The bounty hunters also entered the residence of Reinhardt's tenants where other children lived as well. The baby monitor in the tenant’s home captures the bounty hunter's sweeping the residents with their guns aimed.

Outside of the residence, security footage shows the two police officers standing idly on the porch. One of the officers states, "I don't even know what agency they are part of." To which the other officer responds, "Me, neither. I think they're from PA."

It was later revealed that the bounty hunters were looking for Reinhardt's brother, Luke Reinhardt. Luke was a fugitive who had his bond revoked after he failed to appear in court in Lebanon, PA. He was facing several misdemeanors including retail theft, simple assault, and driving with a suspended license. His bail was set at $5,000. Luke Reinhardt eventually turned himself in to authorities on January 22.

Jake Reinhardt shares that the bounty hunters appeared to be authorities because of the way they dressed. One even had the words “United States Fugitive Task Force” written on the back of his jacket. According to the lawsuit, Reinhardt only opened the door because he saw the police authorities; however, he did not anticipate the armed bounty hunters would proceed to raid his home.

Anthony Rupp III, an attorney for the couple, shared with local news that the police "stood by, aided, abetted, assisted, helped and participated in an armed home intrusion without a warrant and didn't stop these thugs from holding toddlers at gunpoint, and a pregnant woman." The couples' attorney questions why the police just stood by and watched the events unfold.

Reinhardt also shared with local news of the incident, "In my eyes, they aided in nothing short of an armed home invasion. They were all responsible. It was an egregious attack on my home and my family and my civil rights.”

Buffalo Common Council president Darius Pridgen has weighed in on the incident. Pridgen shares with the local news outlet, “Generally, I’m very concerned. If bail bondsmen 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.”

The bail bond company that conducted the armed raid has also shared a statement that reads in part “When credible information is received concerning the fugitive’s whereabouts, agents work with local police to locate and detain the fugitive.”

According to the lawsuit, the family is seeking monetary and punitive damages. The suit cites false imprisonment, unreasonable search and seizure, negligence, infliction of emotional distress, and other factors.

Nadia El-Yaouti
Nadia El-Yaouti
Nadia El-Yaouti is a postgraduate from James Madison University, where she studied English and Education. Residing in Central Virginia with her husband and two young daughters, she balances her workaholic tendencies with a passion for travel, exploring the world with her family.
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