Chicago-area police serving an arrest warrant entered the wrong home in 2021 and held a disabled woman, her four young grandchildren and others for hours, violating their civil rights, a federal lawsuit alleges.
Adela Carrasco, 63, her grandchildren and other plaintiffs contend in a lawsuit filed Wednesday that officers went to wrong address and demanded entry, even after Carrasco told them the person they were seeking didn't live at her residence in a multi-unit home in Joliet, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southwest of Chicago.
The suit alleges that after Carrasco opened the door, officers pointed loaded firearms directly at her and her grandchildren, who were ages 10, 12, 13 and 14 at the time, and detained them, relatives and others for six hours without legal cause on Nov. 2, 2021.
Police also allegedly refused requests by Carrasco, who has COPD and asthma and walks with a cane, to get her asthma inhaler and use the bathroom.
“This is unacceptable behavior towards young children and an elderly, disabled woman, regardless of the circumstances,” Zach Hofeld, one of the plaintiffs' attorneys, said in a statement. “There is a modicum of decency and reasonableness with which police must treat the elderly and children."
Although officers did not have a search warrant, while they were inside Carrasco's residence they allegedly cut open couch cushions, flipped mattresses and pulled clothing from drawers.
The complaint contends police violated the plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment right protecting individuals from improper search and seizures as well as their due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.
It seeks unspecified damages for “egregious violations” of the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights, emotional distress, psychological pain and the suffering.
When officers arrived at Carrasco’s residence, the suit alleges they knew they were at the wrong address and were using the arrest warrant for a then-18-year-old man who lived in the unit adjacent to Carrasco's “as a false pretext” to search her residence.
Officers also shouted a surname different from the last name listed on the warrant for the young man, who was wanted in connection with weapons-related offenses, it contends.
The plaintiffs were all living at the time in the adjacent units within the same home and all were relatives, with the exception of two girlfriends, their attorneys said.
The two residential units were clearly marked with different addresses. But the suit alleges that a Joliet police detective acted “on a hunch” and wondered if the suspect's older brother, who lived at Carrasco's residence, could be connected to a Halloween party shooting days earlier that killed two people.
At the time, the "defendants faced enormous, mounting, public pressure to make an arrest" in that deadly shooting, the suit says.
Officers eventually entered the adjacent residence and arrested the 18-year-old. But despite his arrest officers detained Carrasco, her grandchildren and the others for hours, it alleges
Police later arrested and charged three people in the Halloween shooting, and none of those suspects had “any relation” to the 18-year-old or anyone who lived at either of the two units, the suit says.
It names as defendants the city of Joliet, more than a dozen current or former Joliet officers, Will County and several officers with the county sheriff’s department. The U.S. Marshals Service is also a defendant because two current or former members of the federal agency were also involved in serving the warrant, the complaint alleges.
The city of Joliet and the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office both declined comment Friday, saying they do not comment on pending litigation. A message seeking comment on the lawsuit was left Friday with the U.S. Marshals Service.