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Wednesday, May 29, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Family Says Chicago Cops Peed on Their Mail

CHICAGO (CN) - A family claims Chicago police broke into their house, urinated on their mail, spit in the coffee maker, stomped and slapped them and told them "You've been punk'd," while searching for someone who had not lived there for at least a year.

South Side residents Estella Walker, Ray Robinson Sr., Ray Robinson Jr., George Graham and Cornelius Burns sued the City of Chicago, Officer Sergio Martinez, and other unnamed officers in the Federal Court. Walker is Robinson Sr.'s wife; Burns is their landlord.

The Robinsons say they were watching TV peacefully at home on March 2, 2011. Robinson Sr. is over 50 years old and walks with a cane. Graham is a recovering stroke victim.

"Unbeknownst to plaintiffs, earlier that same day, the Chicago Police Department obtained a search warrant to search for an individual named 'Mike,' a male black, 30 years of age, 6'00" in height, and 230 pounds and the first floor apartment at [their address] to look for contraband, particularly for 'crack cocaine.'"

The family says their first-floor apartment had been vacant for a year before they moved into it, on Feb. 1, 2010.

The family says, "they heard several cars outside screech to a halt and looked out and saw three unmarked cars in front and two in back of the building. Seconds later, seven to eight police officers in plainclothes and one in uniform crashed through two hall doors with a slam bar.

"The officers came in with guns drawn, were wearing plainclothes, and had no identifying information or badges displayed.

"The officers immediately yelled to the plaintiffs to get on the ground. The police were yelling obscenities and all police officers had drawn guns, including a shotgun and at least one automatic rifle.

"The officers were verbally and physically abusive, actually striking the plaintiffs on several occasions, while plaintiffs offered no resistance whatsoever.

"Plaintiffs were never asked for identification by any of the officers.

"Ray Robinson Sr. has diabetes and walks with a cane. Ray Robinson Sr., Ray Robinson Jr., and George Graham, who was recuperating from a stroke, were handcuffed and assaulted. The officers repeatedly yelled 'where are the drugs?,' while striking plaintiffs. ...

"The apparent leader of the police was a short, white, chubby officer wearing a white shirt, with blondish hair. This individual appeared to get more and more agitated as the officers, tearing through the apartment, had found no contraband or any gun. He yelled he was going to 'burn' someone.

"After about an hour of entering and searching through every conceivable hiding place, including drawers, closets, and appliances, a sergeant came into the first floor apartment, walked around, and while leaving, stated (apparently to the other officers): 'You fucked up another one.' [Parentheses in complaint.]

"The officers destroyed the apartment, doing, but not limited to, the following acts:

"a) threw the television off its stand;

"b) took multiple DVD's belonging to plaintiffs;

"c) stole or tore up plaintiffs' 'Link' cards;

"d) threw food from the pantry and refrigerator around the apartment;

"e) the same Latino officer that strip searched Ray Robinson Jr., actually urinated on the plaintiffs' mail;

"f) broke the washer and the air conditioner;

"g) tore up books and clothes;

"h) threatened to charge George Graham with bank robbery;

"i) told George Graham 'you've been punked';

"j) threw a music system on the floor of the apartment;

"k) tore the pipes to the hot water heater off the wall;

"l) tore the hot water heater off the wall;

"m) dumped the contents of every drawer in the unit on the ground;

"n) dumped the contents of the refrigerator on the ground;

"o) tore up photographs in a funeral memorial book, and tore up photographs in an album;

"p) spit into the plaintiffs' coffee maker;

"r) took George Graham's keys and threw them across the street.

"No guns, drugs or contraband were found in the apartment on the first floor and plaintiffs did not resist, interfere or impede the defendants in any way.

"The first floor plaintiffs were cuffed throughout the search.

"No names were displayed on any badges, nor was any identification of individual officers made to any plaintiff.

"The defendants never showed the plaintiffs a search or arrest warrant. They left a copy of the warrant on the floor on their way out of the premises around 3:00 p.m."

The family claims the cops then repeated the process on their landlord, co-plaintiff Burns' second-floor apartment, where they also found nothing, but trashed the place.

They seek punitive damages for unlawful search and seizure and violation of due process.

They are represented by John Moran Jr.

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