Dramatic police raid traumatizes Edmonton family after false kidnapping claims

An Edmonton family says they are traumatized after police and tactical teams raided their home on November 2. They say police broke down their door and swarmed their backyard with guns blazing, forcing children and family members to the ground at gun point in what they say w as a major police error.

It looked like the scene out of a movie.

Security footage captured what one Edmonton family is describing as the most terrifying and traumatic moments of their lives – when a police tactical team raided their home on Thursday.

“They had an army tank smashing down the front door,” said James Potts. “They had several officers enter through the backyard and they took my senior parents and all the kids in the house at gun point, forced them to lay on the ground, zip-tied my son.

“Crazy, crazy stuff.”

Days later Potts was still shocked by what happened in his north Edmonton back yard.

RCMP and EPS tactical officers entered his backyard and ordered five children – aged six to 17 – and his elderly parents onto the ground outside at gun point.

“They’re all laying on the ground, one has no shirt on, the others are cold and scared. It was just horrible,” recounted the grandmother Vicki Cooke. “It was like something out of a movie, not in real life.”

Alberta RCMP and Edmonton police tactical team conduct raid on north Edmonton home Nov. 2, 2023. (Submitted by: James Potts)

According to police, Fort Saskatchewan RCMP got a call about a possible kidnapping after a man received a text from his son saying he was being held against his will at knife and gun point. Other family members allegedly received similar text messages.

“The complainants report that they received a text from their son advising that he needed $1,500, and was being threatened with a gun to his head and a knife to his stomach,” RCMP told CityNews in a statement.

Police responded to two different homes.

“Although the victim was not located, RCMP believe the victim had been in the residences prior in the day,” RCMP said.

RCMP later found the alleged victim at a third location, unharmed, with no evidence of kidnapping.

“At that time, responding officers had reason to believe that the victim faced imminent, severe bodily harm or death,” an Edmonton Police Service spokesperson told CityNews. “Responding officers in this position do not have the luxury of time, and must operate on the best information they have at the time to preserve life.

“Police initiated a breach plan at two residences simultaneously where it was believed the victim may be located.”

Potts says in the moment it was unclear what police were doing there.

“At first they said they were here for some sort of a weapons complaint,” he said. “And then after all was said and done we were told it was some type of a hostage or knife point against their will.

“But clearly it was just my senior parents, my son and my nieces and nephews in the house.”

Alberta RCMP and Edmonton police tactical team conduct raid on north Edmonton home Nov. 2, 2023. (Submitted by: James Potts)

Potts says his family is so traumatized by the experience they are likely going to sell their home and move out of Edmonton.

“The damages are minor, probably $5,000-$6,000 in damages that they did to the house. That can be repaired,” he said. “But what can’t be repaired is the trauma they imposed on these kids. It’s just disgusting.”

“I have a granddaughter in there who won’t even go outside, she won’t even leave the house,” added Cooke. “I know now for a fact though my grandchild will never trust police again – that’s going to be a fact.”

Potts says officers apologized as they were leaving, but he hasn’t heard from anyone since.

RCMP, which is leading the ongoing investigation into the file, is looking into mischief charges related to the initial call.

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