Sometimes the people for vow to protect and serve do exactly the opposite. Two Chicago police officers were recently accused of fabricating evidence to request and execute search warrants. They were subsequently convicted for the plot. What did they do? Who did they do it to? And how did they get away with it? Those are questions their superiors will have to answer. For now, the people who were affected by those officers’ actions are taking them to court.
The pair of Chicago police officers, Sargeant Xavier Elizondo and David Salgado were removed from their positions in 2018, after carrying out their crimes in the preceding year.
One victim, Michaela Cruz, said: “It’s disgusting, too, honestly because I always told them you respect the police, you talk to them, be honest to them. You’re not going to get in trouble if you tell them the truth. How could they terrorize my family like that?”
She had returned to her apartment in January 2018 to find her 16-year-old under arrest. SWAT immediately turned their guns to point at her — and another two of her children — before charging her with narcotics-related crimes. Those charges were eventually dropped, but the trauma of the experience stuck with Cruz.
Her attorney, John Lovey, said: “Those two officers have since been convicted in federal court. This perpetuated under the CPD and nobody did anything about it. It took the FBI to get involved.”
The two officers created an imaginary informant named John Doe in order to request the search warrants, which they later executed.
Another woman, Irene Simmons, was subject to a similar experience. Police stormed her home when she was with her granddaughter. They had warrants. Simmons, too, was charged with a narcotics crime. That charge, too, was eventually dropped. And that trauma, too, stuck with her.
Now, the two women are suing. The defendants are the two officers involved and the city of Chicago for perpetuating an environment that allowed officers to remain silent when they should have spoken up about corruption in the department.
Cruz said, “relieved a little that they were off the streets” when she heard that the two officers involved in her experience were finally removed from duty and convicted of their crimes.
Attorney Joshua Tapfer said, “These so-called informants were not willing informants. These so-called informants were themselves incentivized or terrorized or threatened by these same officers to cooperate.”
Cruz, meanwhile, hopes the future will be brighter. “I don’t got no choice but to look up,” she says. “You know, you gotta look up. And hold the Chicago Police Department accountable for the actions of its officers.”