Family says police pointed guns at them during botched raid, files civil rights complaint

CHICAGO -- A family filing a civil rights complaint against the City of Chicago alleges police traumatized their children when they mistakenly raided their Southwest Side home in 2017.

Hester and Gilbert Mendez say officers bashed in their apartment door last November, rushed into their home and pointed guns at the family. Gilbert Mendez said he felt utterly powerless, and accuses police of pointing a gun at his head as they held him in custody.

“My wife was screaming frantically. My babies were screaming,” Gilbert Mendez said in court Wednesday.

According to their suit, their nine- and five-year-old sons begged the officers not to hurt their father as they kept him in handcuffs during their search.

“For several minutes, Peter and Jack cried and pleaded for officers not to shot and kill their father,” the family's attorney Al Hofeld Jr. said.

Police searched the apartment for 30 minutes before realizing they had the wrong address and leaving without an apology, the family said.

Hofeld says the case points to a "systematic defect in Chicago policing," and changes in police interactions with children should be part of planned reforms included in a draft Consent Decree.

“The warrant was obtained for the wrong apartment because the complaining officer failed to investigate and verify the apartment number,” Hofeld said.

Lawyers say such behavior is a violation of police department guidelines governing the execution of search warrants.

In a separate criminal complaint filed in federal court, lawyers for the Mendez family say police even pointed their guns at Mendez's wife and children.