OGDEN, Utah – An Ogden family is speaking out about a scary late night encounter with police earlier this month in a case of mistaken identity.
In the early hours of Dec. 20, police surrounded the Hill home with guns drawn and arrested Eric Hill before realizing he wasn’t the suspect they were looking for.
At around 2:30 a.m., Eric says his daughter heard knocking and noises at his front door and grabbed a baseball bat in case he had to defend his wife and two children from an intruder.
“I was terrified. I didn’t know what to do,” Eric said. “It was two thirty in the morning and our daughter Kayla comes down to our room and says she hears knocking.”
While his wife Melanie reached for the phone to call 911, Eric called out asking who was out the door.
“I’m asking who it is and I’m not getting any response and I’m asking louder and finally I hear Ogden Police. And I didn’t believe it with the long response,” Eric said. “So I open the door and I have six men there with assault rifles pointed at my face, yelling at me to drop the bat.”
Police say they were looking for 23-year-old Derick Billmire, an alleged military deserter, and believed Eric Hill was that man.
“I keep telling them my name, ‘I’m Eric Hill, I’m Eric Hill.’ And they keep telling me I’m not Eric, I’m Derick,” he said.
Derick Billmore had once provided the Hills’ address in paperwork, but the Hills say their identity should have never been a mystery for police.
“I’ve owned this home for six months, that’d be easy enough to find out. I have two cars in the driveway that are registered to us,” Eric said.
After Melanie was able to prove Eric’s true identity, the incident was over, but the Hills say the confusion and fear still lingers, especially for their kids.
“Still today they wont sleep in their own bedrooms,” Eric said. “If a neighbor knocks on the door they get scared and start finding a place to hide.”
An officer from the Ogden Police Dept. says that the incident was just an unfortunate accident and they’ve reached out to the Hills to offer an apology.
There is a process to file a formal complaint with the police department, but the Hills say they haven’t filed a complaint.
Eric Hill says that’s because it’s his understanding that the incident would only be investigated by Ogden Police internal affairs and they’ve already lost his confidence.
Eric says that when he went to the door, he made the split-second decision to grab a bat or a gun.
Since his kids were already scared, he said he chose the bat, something that may have saved his life. He says an officer told him the situation could have ended much worse if he’d answered the door with a gun.
Police were able to later locate the real Derick Billmore elsewhere in Ogden.