CHICAGO (CBS) — Seven-year-old Samari Boswell said she was terrified the night of her younger brother TJ Boswell’s birthday party last month. She was expecting a party with cake and singing, but instead she and her family suddenly found themselves surrounded by police with guns pointed at them.
With her mother Stephanie Bures by her side, the second grader recalled the scary Sunday night of Feb. 10, when a team of Chicago police officers raided her brother’s party carrying a battering ram and a sledgehammer, and with weapons drawn.
“They were saying F words and stuff,” Samari said. “It was horrible.”
Bures called what happened “horrible” and “unnecessary,” because the suspect who police officers were looking for hadn’t lived in the building for five years.
“As long as they continue to do that, there will never be trust between citizens and the Chicago Police Department,” said Al Hofeld Jr., the attorney who represents the family.
Hofeld Jr. said it is another case of a “bad” search warrant where police did not do their homework.
“My law firm took 30 seconds to do a person search and came up with [the suspect’s] most current address, which is on 83rd street nowhere near the property,” Hofeld Jr. said.
This is the fourth search warrant case Hofeld Jr. has handled involving allegations that police raided the wrong homes and pointed guns at innocent people, including children. He said he plans to file suit against the Chicago Police involving the Boswell children and other adults at the party, including an adult relative, Kiqiana Jackson.
“They manhandled me it took two officers to get the cuffs on me,” Jackson said.
Jackson said she was handcuffed and taken outside into the cold after repeatedly asking police to see the warrant.
“I wanted to know why were they there. Who are you? Show us a search warrant,” Jackson said. “I asked for a search warrant, I guess, one too many times. And [the officer] was like, ‘Arrest her.’”
Jackson, a public school employee who works with children with disabilities, said she was scared, got angry, and repeatedly told officers she had a right to see the search warrant. She was denied, even though Chicago Police’s own search warrant policy says warrants need to be turned over “promptly.”
The family said the warrant wasn’t turned over until after police searched the home, broke a big-screen TV, and made a mess of their entire apartment.
Jackson also said they never knocked to announce they were police and that they just came right in, traumatizing small children and adults.
Jackson was in tears as she described the raid.
“Then you see guns, you see guns pointing at us and it was like terrifying,” Jackson said.
Samari said she was playing “Duck, Duck, Goose” right before the handguns were pointed at her.
“I thought they was going to shoot me, and my brother, and everybody else,” she said.
“We are people, we have rights, we deserve to be respected,” Jackson added.
CBS 2 Investigators have been looking at Chicago Police wrong raids since August of 2018. To date, we have shown four cases, involving 11 children, where police held innocent families for long periods of time without showing them the warrants.
In each case, the families say the warrants were not turned over until police were leaving.
“They gave me the search warrant after they tore up the house,” said Ebony Tate, who had her home wrongly raided in September of 2018.
In November of 2018, we asked Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson about officers raiding the wrong homes.
“We try to provide the officers all the training we can to ensure that type of thing doesn’t happen,” Johnson said.
We also uncovered children dealing with emotional trauma after police pointed guns at them.
Peter Mendez was 9 years old when he said cops pointed rifles at him and his younger brother during another raid with a warrant that named the people one floor above their apartment.
“Just the saddest moment,” said a crying Mendez recalling that night.
Jackson said during the Feb. 10 birthday party raid, officers made insulting comments to her when she told them she was a law-abiding citizen who works with special needs children at Chicago Public Schools.
“Police officers are supposed to protect and serve, not talk to us like we’re nothing, like we’re beneath them,” Jackson said. “And it was really hurtful, really hurtful.”
So, how often do wrong raids happen? It seems to be a tightly guarded secret at Chicago Police Headquarters.
We asked Johnson last year if the Chicago Police Department tracks wrong raids.
“Yeah, we look at it,” Jackson said.
But when asked if he could provide specific numbers, he said, “I don’t have it off the top of my head, but we do have it.”
Despite official Freedom of Information requests by CBS 2 made five months ago, no such records have been turned over.
Hofeld Jr., who also represents Mendez’s family in their case, has been fighting to get all the body camera footage of the raid. But key portions still have not been turned over.
“One-hundred percent, we want all of them,” he said of the body camera videos. “Every one.”
Jackson and Samari’s family said they are not sure if officers were even wearing body cameras, but they hope so. They want to know how TJ’s birthday cake ended up outside its box and on the basement floor.
“There it was in the corner, on the floor, with the number 4 stuck in it,” Jackson said.
“I really think the judges have to be more careful and make sure that their officers – the people who are here to protect and serve us – have done their homework.”
Chicago police responded Monday to a CBS 2 inquiry in the following statement that reads, in part:
“In all cases, CPD makes every effort to ensure the validity and accuracy of all information that is used to apply for and execute search warrants. Oftentimes this information comes from community sources and despite the vetting of material through a criminal court and the methodical process to authenticate addresses, errors can occur and we take them very seriously.”
Claims can be filed by calling 312-744-5650.