By Chris Hacker
CHICAGO (CBS) — A Chicago family who says Chicago Police officers raided their apartment based on faulty information filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal court Wednesday.
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In the suit, George Garcia and his wife Kymberly allege the officers violated their fourth amendment rights against unlawful search and seizure, and that the officer who obtained the warrant and the supervisor who oversaw the raid failed to take the proper steps to ensure it was justified.
That resulted in a team of officers assigned to the department’s new “Community Safety Team” breaking into the Garcia family’s home in early March, just weeks after city officials promised to reform the way the department handles search warrants, the suit alleges. The officers were looking for drugs, but found none, records show.
The Community Safety Team was created last summer in the wake of widespread unrest and a spike in violent crime. Designed to “strengthen public trust,” according to Police Supt. David Brown, the team’s officers have been involved in a number of controversial incidents since it was formed.
The story of the raid on the Garcia family was first reported publicly by CBS 2 investigative reporter Dave Savini Wednesday.
The raid on the Garcias came on the heels of promises made by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Police Superintendent David Brown to reform the department’s search warrant policy.
“I have made my commitment to the public, not just today, but previously, that we are going to get this right,” Lightfoot said at a news conference March 3. “And we are going to make sure that people’s rights are respected.”
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But just 11 days after that statement, the Garcia family’s home was raided. What they say happened during the raid mirrors many of the same accusations made by other families who were the subject of police raids: property damage, guns pointed at families, and humiliation and mistreatment by officers.
“They treated us like we were below them,” Kymberly Garcia said. “Like we were scum on the street basically, and I never got treated that way by anyone my entire life.”
The suit alleges the search warrant “contained fabricated, false and misleading information” obtained from an anonymous informant, and that the officers took no steps to verify what that informant told them.
The complaint for the search warrant — the document police use to explain why such a warrant is necessary — obtained by CBS 2 shows the officer who got the warrant did no investigative work other than speaking to the informant. That’s despite a department policy that requires an officer to complete an independent investigation after receiving a tip, including checking utility records, conducting surveillances or doing controlled drug buys to confirm drugs were being sold there.
George Garcia told CBS 2 he felt officers treated him and his family with disrespect, and said he wants them investigated.
“They treat you with the most disrespect from the beginning to end and don’t have a care in the world about it,” he said.
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A department spokesperson told CBS 2 the case has been referred to the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which handles disciplinary cases against Chicago Police officers. A spokesperson for Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot didn’t respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.