CHICAGO (CBS) — CBS 2 has obtained new video of a raid Chicago Police conducted at the wrong home this past February.
It highlights yet again the inconsistencies in CPD policies and practices when it comes to body cameras – an issue that boiled up after police shot and wounded a man in Englewood, touching off violent protests and looting.
CBS 2 Investigator Dave Savini on Thursday exposed a camera breakdown – a failure to use body cameras, and a lack of discipline too.
“We will not tolerate that,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said as she talked tough this summer about cops who violate the Chicago Police Department’s body camera policy. “If you are one of those officers, we will find you we will identify you and we will strip you of your police powers, Period.”
But the CBS 2 Investigators have found officers failing to obey body camera rules get little or no discipline. No punishment has been handed down for those we exposed violating the body cam policy while raiding the wrong homes
You won’t see any body cam video from the moment police broke down the door confronting a 4-year-old girl and her grandmother, Sharon Lyons, with weapons in February.
“Next thing I know, they have machine guns – whatever kind of gun they are – in my face,” Lyons said.
They can only describe what happened, because police didn’t record that part of the raid.
On Thursday, CBS 2 did obtain footage from the part of the raid on Lyons’ home that police did record – from cameras worn by patrol officers who showed up later after all the damage was done.
“Who wouldn’t be upset?” Lyons said. “I’m sick as hell.”
Lyons, who was suffering from the flu that night, also complained about how police raided the wrong home once again.
“You always got a search warrant, but you’re always kicking down the wrong (expletive) door,” she said.
David Harris is a law professor who works with other cities to help improve policies. He also teachers about police behavior, search warrant use, and body camera use.
“Number one is that if you’re going to have a body camera deployment, you have rules and the rules have to mean something,” Harris said.
He emphasized that discipline for violating the rules is critical.
“And it’s not just a matter of settling lawsuits and writing checks,” he said. “You are poisoning any of the potential for any good relationship to come out of the consent decree and any reforms there might be, so this goes right to the heart of what I think we’d like to see the Chicago Police Department become,” Harris said.
Just this week, body camera video could have been key evidence in the police-involved shooting of 20-year-old Latrell Allen. But the CPD never issued the officers involved body cameras.
The shooting sparked anger in Englewood and led to more distrust and clashing in the streets. Officers said Allen shot at them with this gun so they returned fire.
But as witness, Tenisha Caldwell, said she witnessed the shooting and said Allen had no gun and had his arms up when police fired.
Caldwell: “He was running and he stood right here. The officer and just kept shooting at him.”
Savini: “There’s talk they recovered a gun.”
Caldwell: “No, he didn’t have any gun. He didn’t have anything. He was crying; asking the officer, ‘Why you keep shooting me?’”
The city said the officers involved in the shooting were part of a newly-created community safety team. The CPD has more than 8,000 body-worn cameras, but not a single one was given to the new team.
Again, critical evidence was never recorded.
“So it’s not a perfect technology by any means, but it does establish certain facts beyond dispute,” Harris said.
But with no body camera video to review, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability is now asking the public to come forward with any video evidence from any cameras in the area that might have recorded the shooting.
Along with the community safety team officers, the CBS 2 Investigators exposed other police units not wearing body cameras – including gang, gun, narcotics, and SWAT teams.
Among them was a gang enforcement unit that raided a child’s birthday party last year. We found the only existing video is from is from a security camera showing the 17 armed officers headed to the raid.
“I thought they was going to shoot me and my brother,” said Samari Boswell, then 7.
We’ve learned through federal court records that the city just settled a civil rights violation case with the family from the birthday raid. But there are several wrong raid lawsuits still out there involving SWAT teams.
One of those was the raid at the home of Domonique Wilson.
Wilson submitted a FOIA request to the Chicago Police Department (CPD) to get the police body camera video from the raid. The response she received said it is too burdensome of a request.
In the wrong raid on Ebony Tate’s family, the only video Tate has is from a neighbor’s cellphone camera.
“There’s no reason that swat teams can’t use them too,” Harris said. “None.”
Given the mounting lawsuits and community distrust, Harris said the CPD needs to make reforms, wear body cameras, and hold officers accountable.
“If they don’t mean anything, the citizens of your town are justified in feeling, why did we spend this money?” he said. “Why were we told we were going to have greater accountability through cameras?”