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CHICAGO (CBS) — The Civilian Office of Police Accountability has finished its investigation into the officers who wrongly raided the home of then-9-year-old Peter Mendez and his family.
The investigation was closed on Friday. But what COPA found won’t be revealed for months.
A team of Chicago police officers burst into the innocent family’s home on Nov. 7, 2017. Guns were pointed and every part of the home was searched.
The children can be seen on police body camera video scared and crying – especially when they saw their dad in handcuffs.
“Assault rifles, maybe like a few pistols,” Peter recalled in 2018.
His little brother Jack was by his side that night shaking with fear.
“Just the saddest moment,” a crying Peter said as he recalled that night.
Mom and Dad say cops screamed profanities at the family as they tore the house apart and ordered them all to the floor at gunpoint.
“I could hear my babies screaming, ‘Don’t shoot my dad. Don’t kill my dad. Leave my dad alone. What did my dad do?’” Peter’s father, Gilbert Mendez, said back in 2018.
A bad tip from a confidential informant led to police entering the wrong apartment.
The CBS 2 investigators found officers from the Harrison (11th) District used a search warrant filled with mistakes, even the judge’s printed name as required by police order is missing.
Officer Joe Cappello got the warrant approved thusly – he made a drug arrest the day before and flipped that suspect into becoming a confidential informant called a John Doe. The John Doe then gave Cappello the name and an address on Damen Avenue of a so-called major drug dealer.
But Cappello never investigated to see if John Doe’s tip was even true or if the address was correct.
“I was not able to do surveillance of that due to the nature of our hours,” Cappello said in a 2019 deposition.
About a week after the CBS 2 Investigators exposed this police video in November 2018, COPA launched its investigation.
Chicago Police Supt. David Brown now has 60 days to review COPA’s recommendations and decide if he agrees or disagrees with the findings and any recommended discipline.
Peter, along with his family, were the first to speak out in our ongoing investigation – “[un]warranted” – in which the CBS 2 Investigators exposed a pattern of Chicago Police officers getting bad tips and raiding the wrong homes.
In August 2019, Gov. JB Pritzker signed the Peter Mendez Act to protect kids as a result of our investigation. State Sen. Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago) sponsored the legislation requiring police training on how children experience trauma by police actions and training on de-escalation tactics for when children are involved.
Source: CBS Chicago