CHICAGO (CBS) — The state’s top prosecutor said Tuesday that he is alarmed by a pattern of Chicago Police raiding the wrong homes.
CBS 2 Investigator Dave Savini and his team have been exposing the bad raids for more than a year.
Guns have been pointed at children, a woman was held in handcuffs naked, and innocent families have been left traumatized when officers fail to verify addresses.
“It’s disturbing,” said Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul. “It’s disturbing as a father who’s raised children in Chicago.”
Raoul wants to see the disturbing pattern we’ve exposed of police raiding the wrong homes stopped.
Our year-long investigation documented more than a dozen cases of police raiding the wrong homes, often pointing guns at children or their families leaving them traumatized.
“It’s heartbreaking. I had an opportunity to review some of the stories, and what hollered out at me is the trauma that the kids endured – the innocent kids endured – as a result of these situations,” Raoul said. “You can’t undo that.”
One of those kids was Peter Mendez. His home was wrongly raided and guns pointed at his family. Officers kept searching even after they knew they were in the wrong home.
Raoul said in the Mendez case, the officers’ body cameras discovered “unconstitutional policing practices.”
“Once you have firm knowledge and you acknowledge and you admit that you’re in the wrong place, your policing is unconstitutional,” Raoul said. “It’s against the law, and there should be accountability for that.”
Another problem we uncovered in the Mendez case the first few officers through the door didn’t wear or activate their cameras.
The AG says all officers, including SWAT, should wear body cameras – and anyone who fails to activate them should face serious consequences.
“Because unless you have an investigative report like yours, who’s to know whether or not somebody has failed to turn their body cam on?” Raoul said.
As attorney general, Raoul’s job includes enforcing the federal court ordered consent decree which mandates Chicago Police make reforms – especially the practice of excessive force.
Anjanette Young said police busted through her door – wrongly raiding her home while she was changing her clothes. She said she was naked, handcuffed and humiliated – and had large guns pointed directly at her.
“What man in there doesn’t have a mom, or a sister, or a daughter, and could have compassion for a woman that’s standing here naked?” Young said.
In reaction to that story, Raoul said: “It’s outrageous, and again, it’s traumatic, and it undermines what our office is trying to do in trying to rebuild trust in law enforcement.”
Savini noted that the Chicago Police Department has said it does not track wrong raids, and asked Raoul if he thought the department should.
“Absolutely, and I think they should do so in a manner that they can learn from them,” he said.
Our CBS 2 investigation of these wrong raids led to some action – a full audit is underway by the city’s Inspector General, and Mayor Lori Lightfoot has ordered a review of CPD raid polices.
“When things come into the light of day, it calls for, you know, policymakers and those engaged to react, and it’s a good thing,” Raoul said.
He added, “And I have to say this – this notion of moving towards an unbiased policing; a constitutional policing, somehow compromises public safety is a bunch of garbage. It’s a bunch of garbage.”
The Attorney General says the consent decree is an important tool to reform Chicago police. But he says change on something as difficult as this does not happen overnight.
Raoul said says he sees hope for change with the new mayor and new police superintendent too.
His office is helping in our Freedom of Information Act fight to get the Chicago Police Department to release data on wrong raids, along with the release of key body camera videos in cases like Anjanette Young’s.