Police kill pit bull, make arrest in North Chicago raid
By Judy Masterson firstname.lastname@example.org March 26, 2013 6:14AM
Stephanie Smith of North Chicago becomes emotional as she talks how Metropolitan Enforcement Group officers broke into her apartment and shot and killed her pitbull "Lokey" in the hallway near the table. | Thomas Delany Jr~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 25, 2013 2:38AM
NORTH CHICAGO – Early one morning last week, Stephanie Smith and her dog Lokey, who was sleeping by her side, were awakened by a loud boom outside their apartment building.
Smith, 31, jumped out of bed, but Lokey, a 50-pound female pit bull mix, beat her to the open door and bolted into the hallway where she was confronted by a small army - members of the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group (or MEG). Still groggy, Smith took in the hallway full of officers, each holding “the biggest green guns I’ve ever seen.”
Lokey, who was named after the Loki, Norse god of mischief, barked at the strangers, but she was also wagging her tail and sniffing their boots, according to Smith.
“Let me get my baby! Let me get my baby!” screamed Smith.
“Then the tallest [officer] just stepped through the crowd, aimed his gun down and shot her twice in the head,” said Smith.
The same officer then walked into her bedroom. “He told me ‘Now put your hands up,’ ” Smith said. “I kept screaming. The next thing I knew, I was in the Gurnee Police Department.”
Smith was not the target of the raid. Police were instead looking for her brother Jesse Smith, 30, who had slept on her couch on the night of March 19. The raid, conducted at about 4 a.m. on March 20, resulted in Jesse Smith’s arrest. The warrant gave police powers to search for “cocaine,” “firearms,” “financial records related to the use and sale of controlled substances” and other items.
Jesse Smith is being held at the Lake County Jail on felony charges including unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, two counts of possession of a controlled substance, unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia and felony possession of a firearm.
Stephanie Smith, a full-time student at a local computer school, is still cleaning up her apartment. Both doors were damaged by the battering rams police used to gain entry. A window is smashed; possessions are trashed. He couch as slashed through to the stuffing and cardboard inside. Police took her cell phone, and her brother’s 1997 Cadillac Eldorado.
North Chicago Police Cmdr. George McClary, who declined to comment on the raid, said Jesse Smith was also charged with one count of unlawful possession of cannabis. Stephanie Smith was questioned and released.
Chris Sullivan, director of the Lake County MEG unit, did not return a call seeking comment on the raid. But Honorea “Pat” Smith, mother of Stephanie, said Jesse lived with her and his father at their home on nearby Seymour Avenue. He spent the night because Stephanie has been suffering from debilitating headaches, she said, and she was afraid to leave her alone.
Mrs. Smith said that when she came to her daughter’s apartment at about 5 a.m. on the day of the raid, she was turned away by an officer who said she was “interfering with a crime scene.”
“I didn’t know whether my children were living or dead,” she said.
Later the police arrived at Honorea Smith’s home and asked to search it, but she refused.
“They were looking for weapons,” Mrs. Smith said. “I don’t trust them.”
Rev. Jimmy Williams, pastor of Heavenly Places, where Stephanie Smith attends, and who also owns the building where she lives, said he will meet with North Chicago Police James Jackson Tuesday, March 26, to discuss the raid and the damage caused by Lake County MEG, including a bullet hole in the ceiling of the store below the apartment.
“Who’s going to pay for it?” Williams said. “Why couldn’t they have put the dog in another room? It just seems like overkill; 20 or 30 officers, throwing a bomb, breaking in on people like that. They’re going to hurt somebody.”
Smith, who was scheduled to graduate in April, says she has missed important test dates.
“I keep reliving that moment,” Smith said. “I wish my memory could be erased. Lokey was innocent. I’m innocent. Regardless of what the police think they know, we’re humans. We have feelings. They could have called animal control and got her out of danger.”
Smith, who said she used to rock her dog to sleep, said she needs to talk to a counselor or therapist about the night her brother was arrested and her dog was killed.
“I’m confused,” she said. “Why did this happen?”