Bail bondsmen illegally forced their way into home, family says

Company was searching for relative they say lived in the house

By Andrew Perez - Reporter, Tim Swift - Local10.com Digital Editor

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. - A Miami Gardens family is demanding answers after they say a bail bonds company illegally searched their home for a cousin wanted for skipping a court date.

Employees from Manhertz Bail Bonds were searching for Berlin Gabriel, a habitual traffic offender, this month at a home along Northwest 32nd Avenue, but his family members said he no longer lived there and he had a new address on court documents, setting off a standoff.

The family said Gabriel was now staying with his aunt. But the employees were undeterred.

The homeowner, Donald Colas, called his attorney, Faudlin Pierre, and the police, twice. Pierre quickly arrived on scene and recorded the forced search.

"Somebody get me a battering ram," one of the employees can be heard saying on the video. "Door is open! Preparing to breach."

When the police arrived, the employees backed off. But when the employees returned a short time later, police stood by and watched, the family said.

Colas said the bondsmen remained in the home for hours, going through cabinets, drawers and mattresses. Colas said his 2-year-old child and his elderly father were also at home at the time.

"The reason why these people felt so emboldened to enter my client’s property is because the police did absolutely nothing," Pierre said.

So Pierre sent a letter to city officials, demanding a full investigation before this matter goes to a judge. 

Manhertz Bail Bonds insists the search was all legal, saying the defendant is a family member and that address is listed on other legal documents. 

Miami Gardens Police Department declined to provide a comment Monday.

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