Just when you thought it was safe...A federal lawsuit filed by 62 plaintiffs alleges that Chief C.O. "BAMF" Bradford knew and approved of the K-Mart raid last August. Among others, it names former Captain Mark Aguirre and Council member Michael "Boy Wonder" Berry as defendants.
The suit alleges Bradford was aware of a plan for making indiscriminate sweeps as long as four months before the Kmart mass arrests.
Aguirre, whom the suit calls the mastermind of the sweeps plan, outlined his idea in a memo as early as May 13, 2002, the suit states.
It says Bradford again was informed of the plan in an Aug. 13 memo titled, "Anticipated Mass Arrests from Operation ERACER." The chief "ultimately approved of, or at the very least, acquiesced to the plan," the suit alleges.
It says the 1 a.m. raid at the Kmart in the 8400 block of Westheimer was part of an effort to curry political favor with area residents and businesses.
Aguirre first devised the mass arrest technique in response to complaints about crime near the Greyhound Bus Terminal in the 2600 block of Main and street people camps under the Pierce Elevated, the suit says.
Police carried out several sweeps in the areas, the suit says, and "numerous innocent, law-abiding citizens were unlawfully detained, seized and / or arrested in the roundups."
"Despite its blatant illegality, the plan was popular with residents and businesses, and Capt. Mark Aguirre won praise from them and civic leaders," the suit says.
It says police and city officials knew that the raids meant that innocent people were being arrested and their constitutional rights violated, but continued to support the raids.
Berry accompanied officers on a "dry run" raid in which 25 people were arrested at James Coney Island the night before the Kmart raid, the suit says.
It describes Berry as a strong supporter of Aguirre's tactics.
The suit also names John Jennings as representative of Sage Interests, manager of the Kmart and Sonic property, accusing him of falsely telling police that those arrested were trespassing.