By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
THE DAY OF THE RAID, Delgadillo touted his action against a longtime trouble spot at 646 Broadway Avenue in Oakwood, serving papers that could lay the foundation for seizure of the home for alleged ongoing narcotics sales. The elderly owner of the house and her elderly sister, who both suffer from heart problems, admittedly cannot control the criminal activities of their two adult male relatives. But raiding officers apparently did not find drugs, weapons - or either of the men named in warrants.
The homeowner's niece says police shattered a window next to a bedroom where her invalid aunt slept, and an officer used a hatchet to tear down a security barrier. "All he had to do [to open it] was turn a little knob," she says. Cindy Shin, a spokeswoman for the city attorney, responded by e-mail to the Weekly that "sufficient evidence existed to conclude that the property was again being used for the purpose of selling controlled substances, and thus violating both a court order and state law."
At the house on Broadway Avenue, officers left the kind of damage that was also seen at other homes: shattered windows, holes made by distraction-blast devices, and trashed front doors with broken locks - compromising the personal security of some residents, who cannot easily afford repairs.
According to residents interviewed by the Weekly, to retain the element of surprise, police lobbed into windows items identified by the LAPD as "star brights," which explode and then flash, causing temporary blindness.
When officers hit a home in Inglewood with a battering ram, Teresa Moore, Gwen Webster's sister, became separated from her month-old grandchild. Webster and Moore claim officers nearly rammed the infant's crib, after which, Moore says, Webster was ordered to lay down on a bathroom floor covered in dog feces - her panicked dog having run to the bathroom. Days after the raid, Moore was still racked by guilt, remembering how she screamed from the bathroom for officers to be careful around the baby - and an officer yelled back that he saw no baby. The infant was found safe.
In Venice, Antoinette Reynolds, who is the conservator, cousin and neighbor of a 55-year-old man with cerebral palsy, says she was so terrified by the military-looking teams outside that she telephoned an acquaintance to ensure that her cousin would be taken care of if she were injured or or killed.
The LAPD say they found no illegal items in the Venice home of Elnora Cursh, but Cursh says, in a calm, mellifluous voice, "The one thing that bothered me is that they took pictures of me and my son. I was in my pajamas."
At Mae Phillips' damaged Venice home, police initially refused to resecure her door - telling her, she says, to push a heavy couch against it. Los Angeles City Council member Bill Rosendahl, who represents Venice, says that Captain Joseph Hitner of Pacific Division later assured Phillips that the LAPD will repair the door.
Sitting quietly, listening to the litany of complaints at a recent community meeting, detective Gilbert said the families whose homes were raided "have just as much a right to take their kids for a walk and not get shot" as any other community. Since the raids, he argues, the area is free of drug dealing. But many caught in the raids that night are asking: At what cost?