‘I thought I was going to die as armed terror cops stormed my flat, why did this mistake happen?’
PUBLISHED: 06:29 21 June 2018 | UPDATED: 11:25 21 June 2018
In his own words, father-of-two Garcia Diabaca, 31, tells of the terrifying moment when armed terror cops burst into his bedroom. They were at the wrong address and had the wrong man, but the consequences for the supermarket worker have been far reaching.
At about 3pm on a Friday afternoon, armed police forced entry to my property and I heard this massive noise and things falling all over the place and screams.
I was asleep at the time because I’d worked a night shift and I thought my family was at home. There was all this screaming and commotion and I woke up and I thought I was going to be murdered, that my family was going to be murdered, because of all the noise and screaming.
As I got out of bed and even before I got to the bedroom door, a number of men just burst into the bedroom shouting. Because they were wearing balaclavas I did not know they were police officers.
As far as I was concerned I thought they were burglars because they were brandishing some kind of weapon. There were loads of screams and I could not understand what they were saying.
They pushed me against a chest of drawers, I was only wearing a dressing gown and boxer shorts, and I was trying to ask about my family, ‘What’s happened to my family?’.
From what I understood, they said: ‘There’s no one at the property, there’s only you.’
There was a lot of violence, a lot of pushing and shoving, and then when I saw them trying to handcuff me, that’s when I realised they were police officers.
They said, ‘You’re under arrest,’ and, ‘We have intelligence to arrest you,’ and I asked what it was, but they wouldn’t tell me.
There were loads of them, more than 20, and I was in a state of shock and basically numb. But I knew there was nothing they could have on me because I’ve never committed a crime.
At that point I thought: ‘Ok, this must be some kind of mistake, but I’ll let them do what they have to do.’
They took almost 10 minutes going through the flat and turning everything upside down, looking for something. I don’t know what they were looking for.
Then I heard a voice from the living room, ‘wrong address, wrong address, wrong address’ and some of them came and started saying ‘sorry, we came to the wrong address, we’re really sorry’ and they were trying to take the handcuffs off me. I just fell on my knees. It was terrible really.
I feel like if I had not been in such a state of shock, if I had reacted to defend myself, they could have probably just killed me. That’s what was going through my mind because I knew this was a case of mistaken identity, but I did not know why.
Later police gave me a search warrant from the magistrate’s court and I can clearly see the court signed off the warrant for them to come to my property, but they should have gone to another address, which they eventually did.
I can clearly see that this was a mistake by the police, but the follow-up afterwards, well, there has been nothing at all.
The only thing they did was come back the next day and brought me some flowers as an apology, but that was it basically.
The problem is, when the raid happened it was daylight, there were a lot of people there with phones recording what was happening and people started sending these recordings around the estate where we live. People started to believe that we have got something to do with terrorism.
The day after, the month after, we were getting abused, stuff like, ‘It’s terrorism, what are you doing here?’ and ‘We’re going to blow you up before you blow someone else up’.
Since then we have asked the council to be moved from our home, because the police have been very clear to them that we have to be moved for our own security. I’ve got two kids. The council have basically said yes, but up until now there’s nothing official.
For me, my priority is to be in a place where we are safe, that I am safe. I’ve been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) because I cannot sleep and the flashbacks I’m getting.
Being here just reminds me all the time of what happened and that makes it harder with my PTSD. I just want to move away from here and feel safe.
Obviously I will be seeking compensation because of the damage that has been done to me and my family.
I grew up in a war zone in Angola, so this represented what I had been through in my childhood with the war. I lost my parents.
But the amount of violence, even if you are coming to arrest someone, it was way, way too much aggression. I’m just glad my family were not here.
My first born is five-years-old and she’s also been traumatised by this. She’s always talking about the situation, always talking about police.
We have to say: ‘Police are not going to take your daddy away, they can’t take your dad.’ It’s still a nightmare.
I just hope that one day I will be rid of it, that I will be completely fine and go back to normal. But with the nightmares and anxiety, my therapist says that it might take years.