After a night of heavy drinking, Jose Mendoza wandered into the common area of an apartment building to wait for a friend who had invited him to spend the night at his place.
But he ended up walking into the wrong building and was shot in the face by a nervous cop who claimed Mendoza was trying to break into his apartment.
Mendoza survived the shooting but is now partially blind. And he remains incarcerated on felony home invasion charges with no bond since the shooting last year – despite existing video evidence that supports his story over the cop’s story.
Last month, his attorney filed a lawsuit against the city of Chicago and the cop, Iwan Smith, who was “relieved of police powers” in June 2021 for unspecified reasons, according to NBC Chicago.
His attorney, Thomas Glasgow, told NBC Chicago that the Cook County District Attorney’s Office is blaming a prior DUI arrest for keeping him incarcerated with no bond or trial for his false arrest.
The incident took place on March 31, 2021 after Mendoza made earlier arrangements to spend the night at a friend’s apartment. He had worked all day, then got drunk and was still wearing his work clothes from XFiniti Digital Cable TV when he staggered into Smith’s building, thinking it was his friend’s building.
Surveillance video shows him milling around the common area for about ten minutes, including sitting on a short set of stairs. He then climbs those stairs and tries a doorknob of an apartment to the right just out of view from the camera believing it to be his friend’s.
After finding the door locked, he leans against a wall outside the apartment and squats down to continue waiting for his friend.
However, Smith was inside watching television with his girlfriend and heard somebody trying to open the door so he retrieved his service pistol from a safe in the closet and opened the front door to his apartment.
Mendoza stood up from his squatting position as soon as the door opened, expecting to see his friend, but was quickly shot in the face. He then collapsed in the doorway but Smith kicked him and he fell a few feet away.
Smith closed his apartment door and told his girlfriend to call 911 as Mendoza bled out while trying to stand but failing, slipping and falling into a growing pool of blood. At no point did Smith try to determine if Mendoza was armed nor did he ever attempt to render him aid.
The cops arrive six minutes after the call and Smith greets them at the door to the building with his badge and gun but places the gun down on the floor to allow them to pick it up.
“Did he have a weapon on him,” a cop asks him.
“No, he didn’t have no weapon,” Smith responds.
Smith then proceeds to tell them a story about Mendoza trying to force his way inside his apartment.
“He knocked on my door and when I approached to open it, he pushed it in and I tried to hold it and he forced his way in.”
But the video evidence contradicting his story has been publicly available on the website of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability since November and nobody at the Cook County District Attorney’s Office seems to care.
Watch the video below and read the lawsuit.