CHICAGO (CN) – An Illinois woman claims in court that the Cook County Department of Corrections never should have hired her ex-girlfriend, who tried to murder the woman and her father before turning her work-issued handgun on herself.
Exactly two years after the attempted murder, three victims represented by attorneys from the Chicago law firm Loevy & Loevy filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against Cook County, Sheriff Thomas J. Dart, the Cook County Department of Corrections, various officers and the Estate of Erika Aguirre.
Deisy, Enrique and Gloria Jaimes blame the county for deputizing Aguirre, who worked as a corrections officer, and allowing her to carry a service weapon.
According to the complaint, Aguirre began working as a corrections officer in 2010 and the county approved her purchase of a firearm for work duties the following year. She bought a 9mm Glock 19 in January 2011.
The Jaimeses claim that Cook County “corrections officers or jail guards are prohibited from carrying their service weapon while on duty and have no official use for a service weapon while off duty.”
Four years after purchasing the gun, Aguirre broke in to her ex-girlfriend Deisy Jaimes’ house through a basement window on Nov. 15, 2015.
“Once Officer Aguirre entered the basement of the home, she was confronted by Cassandra Jaimes, Deisy’s 17-year-old sister, who had heard the window break and decided to investigate,” the complaint states.
Aguirre fired shots at Cassandra but missed and the girl was able to flee and call the police at a neighbor’s house.
Other members of Deisy’s family were also able to get away safely, including her mother Gloria, sister Marina and brothers Jason and Henry, according to the complaint.
“Officer Aguirre then proceeded through the basement and up the stairs to Deisy’s bedroom, opening fire on her in the bedroom, and striking her six times, including in the head, shoulders, and legs. On her way to Deisy’s bedroom, Officer Aguirre twice shot Deisy’s father Enrique, who had been awakened by the shots fired at Cassandra, striking him in the back,” the lawsuit states.
Deisy and her father were in critical condition when police arrived, and Aguirre was found dead in the kitchen from a self-inflicted gunshot to the head. A total of 15 shots were fired in the home.
“To carry out her methodical attack, Officer Aguirre used the semi-automatic service weapon she was authorized to carry as a Cook County Jail correctional officer,” the lawsuit states. “Sadly, this attack should have been prevented. Officer Aguirre was not mentally or emotionally fit to serve as a deputized employee of the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, let alone fit to be authorized to carry a gun.”
The Jaimeses lead attorney, Vince Field of Loevy & Loevy, declined to comment on the case Thursday.
Cook County Press Secretary Sophia Ansari said via email, “We are aware of the lawsuit as it was previously filed and dismissed. The safety of our staff and the public is our highest priority.”
Deisy, now 29, says she was shot in the left eye and suffered permanent damage to her brain, arm and leg.
Enrique was shot twice in the back and is unable to walk without assistance, according to the lawsuit.
The complaint cites two alleged outbursts Aguirre had while working as a corrections officer and describes her four-year relationship with Deisy as “violent.”
“Despite this knowledge, no official or supervisory officer from the [county]…followed up or checked in with Officer Aguirre to determine whether or not she was fit for duty as a CCJ correctional officer, let alone fit to be authorized to carry a service weapon,” the lawsuit states.
The Cook County Jail is the largest single-site county jail in the U.S. and is staffed by approximately 3,800 officers, guards and civilian employees.
The Jaimes family claims a systematic “code of silence” exists within the sheriff’s department, which they say has a long history of cover-ups and misconduct.
They want a judge to declare that Cook County and Sheriff Dart violated their rights by requiring Aguirre to become a licensed firearm carrier, which they assert led to the attempted murder. The family also demands a jury trial on their claims of failure to intervene, negligence and breach of duty.