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I-Team: Botched FBI interrogation part of ongoing training with Army Delta Force

I-Team: Botched FBI interrogation part of ongoing training with Delta Force, Navy SEALs
I-Team: Botched FBI interrogation part of ongoing training with Delta Force, Navy SEALs 02:50

BOSTON - There were terrifying moments for a Delta Air Lines pilot Tuesday night. He was sleeping in his hotel room when Army Delta Force agents and the FBI barged in. I-Team sources say they handcuffed the man, put him in the bathroom and interrogated him for 45 minutes. Guests at the hotel were horrified and couldn't imagine how frightening it must have been for the man. 

It turns out the agents raided the wrong room at the Revere Hotel in Boston. The FBI says they were assisting the U.S. Army Special Operations Command with a training exercise and made a mistake. 

Vic Hartman is a 25-year veteran of the FBI and tells the I-Team, "this is a wrongful arrest in a training exercise... I hope they were extremely professional, apologetic. The Special Agent in Charge should have met with him personally and apologized. It is unprofessional, looks unprofessional." 

The military did apologize and said it was reviewing what it called a serious incident with its partners. 

The I-Team has learned this is not the first time the U.S. military and the FBI have conducted training exercises and mock interrogations at Boston hotels. Sources say Boston Police have an officer from the Boston Regional Intelligence Center or what's known as the BRIC assigned to the team, but that officer was not with them during the Tuesday night raid. 

"I know that these types of trainings are necessary, they are a clear part of making sure that all of our public safety agencies are prepared and ready for whatever may come, but there needs to be a level of precision and accuracy," Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said. 

Hotel sources say they are not told about the training. Hartman says using hotels to train is unusual, telling the I-Team, "I do question using a very public hotel and at night is just the very strange piece, because most interviews and interrogations are done in the day, and the law enforcement personnel generally work 9-5, so why are you choosing the nighttime which makes no sense. If this was in fact routine, I think they'll be changing their practices." 

The I-Team reached out to the Boston Police about their role in the operation. We were referred to the FBI for comment. The FBI sent us to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command. In a statement they apologized to the pilot and admitted the mistake. We tracked down the pilot for comment, but he didn't want to talk about what happened. 

Mayor Wu, legal experts question federal training mistake in Boston 03:08

Could the agents and federal government face liability for detaining an innocent person?

"You've got a very sympathetic case," said Victor Hansen, a New England Law professor. "You can just imagine a jury getting this information and being rather outraged, but again, don't forget you still have to establish negligence at the outset."

Legal experts say it would be very difficult to bring action against the agents because they were working in the scope of their jobs. But the federal government can face liability under the Federal Tort Claims Act. Though the act doesn't allow the government to be sued for punitive damages that actually make a real dent.

"So, then you're really limited for somehow quantifying in a money amount how this pilot was harmed," Hansen said.  

Full statement from U.S. Army Special Operations Command: 

"First and foremost, we'd like to extend our deepest apologies to the individual who was affected by the training exercise. Members of U.S. Army Special Operations Command were conducting essential military training in Boston, Massachusetts, with assistance from the FBI-Boston Division on April 4. The training was meant to enhance soldiers' skills to operate in realistic and unfamiliar environments. The training team, unfortunately, entered the wrong room and detained an individual unaffiliated with the exercise. The Boston Police Department responded to the scene and confirmed that this was indeed a training exercise. The safety of civilians in vicinity of our training is always our number one concern. We are reviewing this serious incident with our partners and no further details will be released at this time." 

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