Wrong house raids are a growing concern in Chicago and while law enforcement agencies deny there is a problem, the increasing number of reports suggest otherwise. Incorrect information, outdated records, and police failure to exercise due diligence and reasonable care have left families, young children, and elderly victims traumatized, innocent people injured, and homes severely damaged. When Chicago police raid the wrong house and somebody gets injured or killed, multiple entities may be able to be held liable.
The Effects of Wrong House Raids in Chicago
Multiple wrong house police raids in Chicago have resulted in a number of civil lawsuits against the Chicago Police Department and the City. Plaintiffs allege that victims, including children and elderly people, have been handcuffed, had guns pointed at their heads, been made to stand outside in the cold without adequate clothing, and had their homes ravaged despite their claims that officers had the wrong house. In some cases, SWAT teams have even set off flash grenades. In similar instances with other police departments across the nation, wrong house raid victims have lost their lives.
These events have occurred due to “swatting” by disgruntled friends, family, or strangers, investigations that misidentified houses as “drug dens,” brothels, places of illegal gun possession by a resident, and outdated police records.
Wrongful Death Claims Against Police Departments
Unlike claims against private citizens, wrongful death claims against the city or police departments are usually filed in federal courts because civil rights violations are generally involved. In such cases, it is imperative to establish a clear violation of the individual’s constitutional rights. Examples of such violations would include an excessive use of force and denial of medical care.
Most law enforcement agencies will fight lawsuits rather than settle out of court. Plaintiffs will need to be prepared to back up their claims with evidence like photos, footage from police body cameras, and witness statements. Often, city agencies and police departments will argue they have qualified immunity from such suits. However, this defense is not foolproof and there are ways to establish that the law enforcement agency and its officers are liable for their actions.
Plaintiffs can pursue claims in state courts for personal injuries, emotional trauma, and property damage when they argue that the officer(s) acted in a negligent manner or with malicious intent.