OMAHA, Neb. – A judge has dismissed a burglary charge against a bounty hunter who broke into and searched an Omaha family's home before realizing he was in the wrong house.
Douglas County District Judge Shelly Stratman ruled that Duane Wilson's actions weren't out of line with court rulings that govern the actions of bounty hunters.
"If the state desires to curtail the broad powers of bail bondsmen, then it ought to do so legislatively rather than through selective criminal prosecution," Stratman said in her ruling.
Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine told the Omaha World-Herald that he plans to appeal the ruling. He argued that fugitives should be apprehended by officers in the Metro Area Fugitive Task Force, not by "armed vigilantes."
Kleine said he might request that the Legislature create more laws pertaining to bounty hunters.
"When you allow people to act as vigilantes, it can put a lot of innocent people in jeopardy," Kleine said. "I'm going to do everything I possibly can to prevent this activity from going on."
Wilson, 25, works for Gallagher Bail Bonds in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Police documents show Gallagher was looking for a 17-year-old who didn't show up to court after being bailed out of jail. Wilson broke into a family's home Jan. 30 intending to catch the teen.
"This isn't the house of the person who skipped bail," Kleine said. "It's the house of a family who was totally innocent and was terrorized. Something very bad could have happened."
The family said Wilson searched the house with a gun drawn.
"Someone pushed open the front door with gun drawn," the police report said.
Wilson has denied the claims. In an interview with police, he said the family might have confused his flashlight for a handgun.
"Wilson stated that he knows that Nebraska does not recognize bounty hunters but he felt that he still had the right to enter the residence," the report said.
Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com