Police Abuse

Chicago Police Sued Again For Botched Raid, Pointing Guns At Grandma and Child

This is the 10th lawsuit in the past few years accusing Chicago police of terrorizing families because of sloppy, outdated search warrants.

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Chicago police ransacked a woman's house and held a grandmother and 4-year-old at gunpoint based on a sloppy search warrant, a federal civil rights lawsuit filed today alleges.

According to the suit, 15 plainclothes Chicago police officers broke through the front door of the apartment of Jasmine Vale, her 4-year-old daughter, Leyalina Lazar, and Leyalina's grandmother, Khamme Lazar, 70, as they were preparing for bed on February 27.

The lawsuit says officers trained their guns on the grandmother, who was saying her nighttime prayers, and the child. They then allegedly screamed obscenities at Vale and made her lie face down on the floor with a gun pointed at her head. After the officers herded the trio onto a couch, still at gunpoint, police allegedly ransacked the house.

"They cut couch pillows open, dumped clothes, damaged dressers and tables," the lawsuit says. "They threw Jasmine's nail products all over the floor and destroyed her technician's table, costing her thousands of dollars. They even destroyed Khamme's Christmas decorations and ripping or cutting open Leyalina's prized stuffed animals, 'bunny Sarah' and 'monkey.'"

The lawsuit claims the use of an invalid search warrant, excessive force, and unwarranted property destruction violating Vale and her family's Fourth Amendment rights. The allegations are the latest in a string of lawsuits and investigations by local news outlets that describe Chicago police busting into the wrong houses and terrorizing innocent families.

Vale's lawsuit says the search warrant was based on a tip from an anonymous informant that Khamme's son possessed an unlicensed handgun. Chicago police never bothered to learn that Khamme's son had moved to California several years ago. No gun was found, and no arrests were made.

Local news outlet CBS 2 found that Chicago SWAT teams were frequently relying on sloppy, unverified search warrants to ransack houses; hold families, including children, at gunpoint; and in one case handcuff an 8-year-old child. In another case, 17 Chicago police officers burst into a family's house with their guns drawn during a 4-year-old's birthday party.

Last year, two Chicago police officers were convicted on federal charges that they paid off informants, lied to judges to secure search warrants, and stole cash and drugs from places they raided. Two women have subsequently filed civil suits against the dirty cops, claiming they used bogus search warrants to ransack their houses, point guns at their children, and frame them for drug possession. 

Vale's attorney, Al Hofeld, has represented nine other families with similar stories. In another lawsuit filed last year, a Chicago family claims police officers raided their house three times in four months looking for someone they say they don't even know.

In 2018, The Chicago City Council approved a $2.5 million settlement to a family who claimed CPD officers stormed their house and pointed a gun at a three-year-old girl.

These horror stories led Chicago's Inspector General to launch an investigation last year into how Chicago police vet information and execute search warrants. That investigation is still ongoing, according to the office's website.

The Chicago Police Department also revised its policies for search warrant executions in January, requiring officers to "maintain a sensitive approach and use due care to safeguard the physical and emotional well-being" of any children present "to minimize trauma following the execution of a search warrant."

However, Vale's lawsuit says those requirements, vague as they are, were not followed during the search warrant execution on her house. The officers were rude, vulgar, and left without apologizing, slamming the door behind them.

Reason reported last year on public records showing that Chicago police executed more than 11,000 search warrants over a five-year period, predominantly in the city's low-income and minority neighborhoods, and nearly half of them did not result in an arrest.

The Chicago Police Department declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.

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NEXT: More Than a Year Before Breonna Taylor's Death, Some of the Same Cops Were Involved in Another Home Invasion Based on Dubious Evidence

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  1. It’s time for judges to lose qualified immunity.

    1. I believe they have absolute immunity.

      1. It’s long past time to lose all immunity, absolute and qualified, for judges, prosecutors, police, and everybody.

        I more and more think warrants, arrests, charges, and trials should be treated as bets.

        You raid a house and find nothing? They get to raid your house, just as assholey, any time in the next year.

        You sign a bogus warrant? You’re in that group too.

        You file a zillion charges to get leverage in settlement talks? You take them all to trial. No dropping any of them except as part of the settlement. Add up all the sentencing years and fines you charge — deduct what you get from the jury — what’s left is how many years and fines you get for overcharging.

        1. And I should have clarified in that last one — all the years and fines the prosecutor didn’t get are also deducted from the actual sentence — in effect, the prosecutor is guilty of whatever the defendant is acquitted of, and that includes milder sentencing, not just raw acquittal.

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  2. Vale’s lawsuit says the search warrant was based on a tip from an anonymous informant that Khamme’s son possessed an unlicensed handgun.

    This is one diabolical suspect, sewing guns inside pillows and stuffed animals.

    1. And you can obviously tell if a gun is inside a stuffed doll. The cops just wanted to terrorize the family. It’s the Chicago way.

      1. My guess is that after realizing there was not a gun they were hoping to find drugs to justify their search.

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    2. I hear all the cool 4 year olds hide their stash in their stuffed animals

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  4. Until judges reject out of hand any warrant request based on anonymous or confidential or any other damn subterfuge, this will continue. If the cops can’t get a witness to put their name down in writing, throw them out of court.

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  5. Chicago police executed more than 11,000 search warrants over a five-year period, predominantly in the city’s low-income and minority neighborhoods, and nearly half of them did not result in an arrest.

    So “probable cause” is a 50/50 chance? Somebody’s handing out warrants like Post-It notes, when are we going after those miserable fucks? And don’t give me that shit about how could they have known the information the cops gave them was invalid? The cops are known verified liars, stop believing them. When you issue a warrant for somebody who hasn’t lived there for several years, you know the cop hasn’t done his due diligence, that cop doesn’t get any more warrants.

  6. However, Vale’s lawsuit says those requirements, vague as they are, were not followed during the search warrant execution on her house. The officers were rude, vulgar, and left without apologizing, slamming the door behind them.

    They were professional enough to leave the front door intact enough to slam as they were leaving! Good raid!

    love,
    Mayor Lightfoot.

  7. But they had the right house! They didn’t make a mistake, they were just (checks notes) three years late!!! Poor guys, all that work wasted.

    Cutting open the stuffed animals is a particularly nice touch. Our Heroes in Blue continuing to make those split second decisions that make them so popular.

  8. Is the police union still getting its dues?

    All good here.

  9. This is pure terrorism on the part of these cops. The idea that you can’t tell if a stuffed animal or pillow has a gun inside just by picking it up is moronic. The idea that you couldn’t tell without cutting it open is completely insane. Guns are hard, heavy objects, they are easily detectable inside a cloth shell.

    1. After not finding a gun I think they were hoping to find cash or drugs to justify their search. If they had found a small amount of drugs they would have considered the search a success.

  10. Ban the use of SWAT teams to serve warrants.

    SWAT should be reserved for active shooters and hostage rescue.

  11. And people wonder why others think de-funding the police is a good idea. I don’t think it’s a good idea, but shit like this sure doesn’t help win hearts and minds. Without any accountability, it won’t change.

  12. “And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?… The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin’s thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! If…if…We didn’t love freedom enough. And even more – we had no awareness of the real situation…. We purely and simply

  13. “The whole good cop/bad cop question can be disposed of much more decisively. We need not enumerate what proportion of cops appears to be good or listen to someone’s anecdote about his Uncle Charlie, an allegedly good cop. We need only consider the following: (1) a cop’s job is to enforce the laws, all of them; (2) many of the laws are manifestly unjust, and some are even cruel and wicked; (3) therefore every cop has agreed to act as an enforcer for laws that are manifestly unjust or even cruel and wicked. There are no good cops.” ~Robert Higgs

    1. On balance, the rule of law contributes to the prosperity which we don’t appreciate unless it’s gone.

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  15. What do you expect from a department that answers to a degenerate pervert communist? The whole department is made up of quota hire thugs and misfits.

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  17. The lawsuit says officers trained their guns on the grandmother, who was saying her nighttimeprayers, and the child.

  18. The article fails to mention that the officers were disciplined for banging the front door of the innocent family’s home. Per policy there were supposed to knock it off its hinges. It also fails to mention that Bunny Sarah reached for her waistband. By taking action in the form of a police-involved destuffing, the officers risked their own lives to protect the lives of the family members.

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