Family files lawsuit against Chicago PD for mistakenly raiding home, pointing guns at kids

Family files lawsuit against Chicago PD for mistakenly raiding home, pointing guns at kids
Chicago police mistakenly raided the Mendez family's home last November. Lawyers for the family — (from left) Hester, Peter, Jack and Gilbert Mendez — filed a lawsuit in federal court Wednesday against the city of Chicago. (Image source: courtesy of The Law Offices of Al Hofeld, Jr. LLC)

Lawyers filed a lawsuit in federal court Wednesday against the city of Chicago on behalf of the family whose home was mistakenly raided by Chicago police last fall.

At about 6:30 p.m. Nov. 7, police officers busted through the front door of the Mendez family’s apartment where Jack, 5, and his brother Peter, 9, were playing on the floor. The officers entered without knocking or announcing their presence, with their guns drawn and screaming profanities at the family, according to the family’s lawyer, Al Hofeld Jr.

At least one officer pointed a gun at the boys’ backs when they ran into a room where their mother had been watching television when the incident began.

“My clients are filing this case to say to the mayor, ‘We cannot have a city in which hard-working, law-abiding families with young children are terrorized by the police by mistake or because that’s just their routine practice with children, especially our children of color,” Hofeld said during a news conference Wednesday.

The family is seeking an unspecified amount in damages, WBBM-TV reported.

TheBlaze reached out Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office for a response but was told that the mayor was not ready to make a comment about the lawsuit.

What’s the back story?

Chicago police executed a search warrant on the wrong home in the McKinley Park neighborhood.

The subjects of the search warrant resided in an apartment on the third floor of the same building where the Mendez family live. The Mendez’s apartment was on the second floor.

The 11th district officers forced the father to the floor and handcuffed him.

“The four or five people said to my Dad, get the f down get the f down we will shoot you,” Peter Mendez told WBBM in a recent interview.

Peter and Jack cried and pleaded with the police not to kill their father or take him to jail. The parents were not permitted to comfort their terrified boys.

About an hour into the incident, mom Hester Mendez caught a glimpse of the names on the warrant and told the police that the people they intended to raid lived in another unit. They continued their search for another 30 minutes, while dad Gilbert Mendez remained handcuffed.

Finally, the officers relented and left the apartment without an apology, an explanation or admitting fault.

“The officers acted callous, rude, sarcastic and arrogant,” Hofeld said, adding that the Mendez’s are “model citizens” who’ve never been arrested or charged with any crime.

The mistaken raid and the damage to the family’s home were not reported by the officers to the department. The city did not pay for the damage caused to the home.

How did the officers end up in the wrong apartment?

The complaining officer failed to investigate and verify the apartment number of the subjects of the search warrant, according to Hofeld.

“It was an easily avoidable mistake,” the lawyer said.

After leaving the Mendez apartment, the officers never executed the search warrant to the intended parties, Hofeld said, adding that Chicago police appear to have no record of the incident.

What else?

Both of the couple’s boys are reportedly suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, according to their mother.

It was “just the saddest moment,” Peter said with tears running down his cheeks in a recent interview with WBBM. “It made feel like the police were even what I thought they were.”