CHICAGO (CBS) — CBS 2 Investigators take you inside a police raid, with never before seen video, as officers search for drugs at the wrong place. Police had the wrong address and raided the wrong home.
CBS 2 Investigator Dave Savini found a pattern of wrong raids.
Chicago Police body cameras give a rare glimpse inside a police raid – at the wrong apartment.
“Chicago Police, search warrant,” yells an officer while entering the home.
A team of officers bust into a West Side apartment with handguns and assault rifles drawn on the family and terrifying two young boys including 9-year-old Peter Mendez.
“It was like my life just flashed before my eyes,” said Mendez.
He and his family had been packing boxes prepping to move when police stormed in looking for heroin and cocaine.
Police handcuffed Peter’s dad, Gilbert Mendez, on the floor of the kitchen. Then they got him up and walked him into the room where his boys were sitting. When the children saw the handcuffs around their dad’s wrists, they panicked even more.
“Daddy, I don’t want you go to jail,” said one child.
The CBS 2 Investigators showed the video to Sheila Bedi, a Northwestern University law professor whose part of the Chicago Police consent decree negotiations.
“There’s no reason why these children had to see their father handcuffed,” said Bedi. “The children’s screams are just heartbreaking.”
Bedi said that can traumatize a child. She said children should not have guns pointed at them.
“When a police officer points a gun at somebody, it is a use of force,” said Bedi.
“Just the saddest moment,” said a tearful Peter Mendez about the incident.
The CBS 2 Investigators broke this wrong raid story in August. Around the same time, another bad raid took place and was partially recorded by a neighbor. Video shows a SWAT team, including an armored vehicle, surrounded Ebony Tate’s house.
“It was just fear,” said Tate. “I didn’t want to make the wrong move because I didn’t know what was happening.”
Once again, police had the wrong address, and held more children at gunpoint, including a 13-year-old boy, which frightened his mother and grandmother Cynthia Eason.
“If he had to move, tripped, or anything, who’s to say what the cop would have done?” said Eason. “I’m like, oh my God, please don’t let him shoot my baby.”
CBS 2 Investigators are uncovering a pattern of officers getting warrants, with bad addresses, signed off on by their superiors, prosecutors and judges. Even before these two bad raids, there was another one.
In January 2017, Sharnia Phillips says a SWAT team busting through her door came close to injuring her.
“They used a tank, rammed the door,” said Phillips. “If I would have stepped over one inch, I would have been right behind that door.”
She says police also used a flashbang grenade, and tore through her place looking for a stash of assault rifles with laser scopes. What they found was a .38 caliber Ruger.
“Which I had a license to have,” said Phillips.
She used it for her job as a parole officer.
Phillips’ attorney, Peter Cantwell, says had she been holding her gun, she could have been shot.
“Thank God she didn’t bring her pistol down,” said Cantwell. “So this is just irresponsible. It’s reckless and its reckless disregard.”
Another troubling pattern involves officers and supervisors apparently failing to follow multiple department rules during raids.
These families say police refused to tell them why they were being raided, and waited until they were done searching before ever turning over the warrants.
“They gave me the search warrant after they tore up the house,” said Ebony Tate.
“They never show me a warrant until after two hours,” said Sharnia Phillips.
In the Mendez case, the family says police were well into their search before they turned over the warrant.
“You are going to get a copy of the search warrant,” said one officer on police body camera, while another said, “I’m going to bring you guys up a copy of the search warrant.”
CPD rules say warrants need to be turned over “promptly.” Had that been done, police would have quickly learned they were in the wrong homes.
“They live upstairs. They live upstairs,” said Hester Mendez. “That’s the couple upstairs.”
Even more egregious in their case, police can be heard whispering about raiding the wrong place.
“He gave us the wrong (expletive) apartment, he gave us the wrong apartment,” said an officer.
Bad information from a confidential informant. Information they were supposed to independently investigate and verify.
“Do you think it’s downstairs? He said the first floor,” said an officer while another responded, “I’m saying upstairs based on the windows in the picture.”
Officer Joseph Cappello is the cop who got the warrant approved. He and another officer joked about the bad raid.
“Just throw a party for me,” said Cappello while being reminded he got the warrant.
“You signed off on it,” said the other officer.
Despite officers saying they were in the wrong place, they still kept searching in the bedroom, kitchen and bathroom.
“At this point, they know they’ve got no legal basis for being in the apartment,” said Sheila Bedi. “I imagine that they were hoping to find something that would allow them to have some sort of justification for continuing the search.”
Attorney Al Hofeld Jr. represents the Mendez and Tate families.
“You don’t cut corners on the procedural safeguards that are meant to protect citizens Fourth Amendment rights under the Constitution against illegal searches and illegal seizures,” said Hofeld.
After these bad raids, the families say CPD did nothing to repair damage they caused or replace items they broke including electronics and toys.
“They broke my tablet,” said Legend Booth, Ebony Tate’s eight year old son. “They cracked my tablet.”
Her 11-year-old daughter La’Niya Booth said police broke something that was special to her too, “My Hello Kitty Karaoke.”
“Nobody tried to fix anything – nothing,” said Tate.
The final indignity, to Phillips and Eason, they said police went above and beyond to treat them badly – even denying them clothing. Phillips said police forced her outside in 30-degree weather in her pajamas. Eason said police forced her outside, in front of her neighbors, in her t-shirt and underwear.
“When I was sitting there, one officer – he was laughing at me,” said Eason, who added she repeatedly asked for clothing. “And he said no. And I asked two more times and he said no.”
After all this, CBS 2 investigators wanted to know if police ever got the real suspects they were looking for – two for drug offenses and two others for gun crimes. Only one was arrested but, in the end no one was prosecuted.
CBS 2 has submitted multiple Freedom of Information Requests to the Chicago Police Department about the raids, and has been trying to interview Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson for months about their frequency.
After getting no answers, CBS 2 tracked him down at a news conference Thursday night.
Johnson told CBS 2 that police keep track of all the homes raided by mistake, but said he didn’t have the numbers off the top of his head.
“I don’t have it off the top of my head, but we do have that,” Johnson said.
When reminded of CBS 2’s prior requests for the data, Johnson didn’t answer.
Al Hofeld, Jr. said a lawsuit is being filed Friday in the Tate family case.