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Police peered into the window of a Brooklyn Center home and saw what obviously was a doll inside, according to a federal lawsuit filed by family members, but made up a "baby in distress" report and kicked in the front door without a warrant.

Homeowner Yolanda Mays, 58, and her uncle Tommy Holmes, 74, sued the officers and the city of Minneapolis in U.S. District Court on Tuesday, alleging unlawful search and violation of their civil rights in connection with what happened at their home on March 21, 2023.

The suit said two Minneapolis police officers went to the home without a court's permission while investigating the fatal shooting of a woman a month earlier. They were joined by a Brooklyn Center officer who kicked in the door — even though he had access to the entry code, the suit continued.

In fact, the officers were apparently at the wrong house. A search warrant affidavit that one of the officers filed the next day related to the homicide investigation listed an address of interest on the same street. The digits were the same as Mays' address, but they're not in the same order.

Named as defendants in the suit are Minneapolis officers Andrew Schroeder and Mark Suchta, the city of Minneapolis, and Brooklyn Center officer Alan Salvosa.

"Officers used the observation of a baby as a pretext to gain entry ... to conduct an illegal and unauthorized search," the lawsuit reads. "The officers' manner of entry scared Holmes [Mays was not home] at the time. He thought that attackers or intruders were making entry."

Spokespeople for both police departments and the Minneapolis City Attorney's Office declined to comment. The Star Tribune pursued reaction to the suit from each of the officers, but contact information was available only for Schroeder.

"I'd love to talk to you, but our policy prohibits us from giving any comment," he said Thursday.

During Schroeder's time on the force he's been the subject of a number of disciplinary complaints, including that he concocted evidence. One incident occurred in 2020, when he was accused of fabricating where he got a tip that led to drug charges. Prosecutors were forced to drop the case.

There also have been allegations against Salvosa during his time on the Brooklyn Center force, although this week's suit did not reference them.

According to the new lawsuit, Minneapolis officers Schroeder and Suchta knocked on the door of the Brooklyn Center home. Only Holmes was home, in the basement.

Schroeder took mail out of the mailbox on the door and read the items, the suit alleges, and Suchta peered in the window and saw a baby doll on the couch. He had Schroeder look at it.

They talked about the doll and felt it could be a "real baby that had died," the suit alleges, or just a doll. Schroeder then contacted Brooklyn Center authorities to report a "baby in distress," the suit reads.

Brooklyn Center officer Salvosa arrived, looked in the window at the doll, then kicked in the front door.

The officers entered and searched the home. Since then, plaintiffs' attorney Eric Rice told the Star Tribune, "there has been no follow-up, and my clients have no connection to the investigation."

The homicide investigation in question occurred a month earlier; it resulted in two men, one from Andover and another Brooklyn Park, being arrested and charged with murder in connection with the death of 28-year-old Alexis Rae Rodriguez in north Minneapolis.

The city of Minneapolis is a defendant, the suit explains, because "MPD's deliberate indifference and ratification of the unconstitutional conduct perpetrated by Schroeder and Suchta in this matter caused Mays and Holmes harm."

The suit seeks unspecified monetary damages and argues that the officers "acted with evil intent or reckless indifference to the plaintiffs' rights. ... Punitive damages are necessary to punish the defendants for their conduct and deter further improper conduct."

An incident involving Salvosa in 2015 resulted in an $825,000 civil settlement for the family of Sinthanouxay Khottavongsa, a Lao immigrant who had grabbed a crowbar in what his friends described as an effort to defend them in a brawl at a laundromat. Salvosa ended up shooting Khottavongsa with a Taser, causing him to fall and hit his head. Khottavongsa died of a traumatic brain injury two days later.

In 2021, Salvosa was among those testifying in the manslaughter trial of officer Kimberly Potter, who was convicted of fatally shooting Daunte Wright during a traffic stop. After Wright was shot, Wright drove off and quickly crashed. Salvosa was one of the officers who responded to the collision.

Star Tribune staff writers Maya Rao and Louis Krauss contributed to this story.