Homeowners accused of breaking into their own home | News
PORTERDALE, Ga. -- It's an unusual tale of two neighbors. The incident report is only one sentence. It says deputies responded to a robbery in progress. But the two men arrested and the charges eventually filed, have nothing to do with theft.
Jean-Joseph Kalonji, 61, said he went to his family's new home on Lower River Road in Porterdale to change out the locks before moving their things.
This visit apparently caught the neighbors off guard, and they called 911. It could have ended there -- but it didn't. Instead Kalonji said Robert Canoles and his son Brandon walked over with assault rifles and forced him and his 57-year old wife out of the house.
"She begged me and she started crying. She said 'No, just do it. Don't talk anymore,'" Kalonji said.
It didn't get any better when Newton County Sheriff's deputies arrived.
"My mom is like 'Thank God, thank God the police are here. They're going to now do the right thing', and they went from hands up to right away on their back arresting them," said Kalonji's son and the home's legal owner Bruno Kalonji.
That night deputies called the Canoles heroes. The Kalonjis spent the night in jail. During the incident, the Kalonjis said they kept asking the Canoles and deputies to call their son so he could bring the paperwork proving their right to be at the house.
"I cannot believe that six cops ended up here and none of them wanted to investigate the situation a little more, and they're looking at my parents as thieves at a home where there's nothing inside," their son said.
When it did become clear the Kalonjis owned the house, the charges were dropped.
It's the neighbors who ended up behind bars. Robert and Brandon Canoles were released on $8,450 bond each Tuesday night.
They'll appear in court Wednesday for charges of aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal trespass.
Their lawyer said the family is sorry for the misunderstanding but denies threatening the family or lifting a gun to them.
The sheriff's department has launched an internal investigation into the actions of its deputies. And Bruno Kalonji said we all need to rethink when it's appropriate to take the law into our own hands.
The couples son said, "What would have happened if my dad had been a little more nervous, tried to turn around and had been shot? Because I believe these people would have shot my parents."