Suit claims police misconduct in raid

June 12, 2008 3:08:59 PM PDT
New allegations of Chicago Police misconduct are contained in a lawsuit filed this week in federal court. The plaintiffs claim they were mistreated during a police raid several weeks ago on the city's North Side. In the video, the cops aren't seen physically abusing anyone in any obvious way. The lawsuit is mostly about what is unseen, because someone -- after police had taken control -- allegedly moved the camera.

Police confirm they began the raid with a flash grenade, and that it happened at 11:30 p.m. May 30, 2008, despite the wrong date showing on some of the tapes recorded by surveillance cameras. That night, just over 20 people were attending a party inside the La Familia Motorcycle Social Club, 2500 W. Fullerton, and the department says the officers, wearing body armor and wielding assault weapons, were responding to a tip that illegal drugs were being used or sold there.

"Everybody whose name is being used as a plaintiff say they never saw a warrant that night," said George Becker, attorney.

Attorney George Becker represents the club's owner and most of the people who attended the party. Not only do they allege the raid was warrantless, the owner says the cops stole cash from a safe and coin-operated video games.

Several female plaintiffs say they were strip searched in front of male plaintiffs and male officers.

"The females indicate that they were caused to expose their breasts in front of male police officers and male patrons in order to open their pants and were searched by a female matron who used the same pair of gloves on each female," said Becker.

The video does not show cops committing thefts or any females being strip searched. The plaintiff's attorney says that's because the police turned the camera toward the ceiling at one point during the investigation.

"What happens is the police noticed they are being recorded by the camera, and they point the camera at the ceiling," Becker said.

Police say they did find illegal drugs and weapons inside the club and that two people were arrested, one for reckless conduct, another on a bond forfeiture warrant.

A department spokeswoman told ABC7, "Chicago Police entered the establishment with a legal, court approved search warrant," and while no formal complaints have been filed with police, "The department is committed to thoroughly investigating any allegations of misconduct."

The spokeswoman also says the department has been advised by its lawyers not to show ABC7 the search warrant in detail because the incident is now the subject of a lawsuit. She would not specify what kinds of illegal drugs or weapons that investigators found inside the club.


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