CHICAGO (CBS) — A civil rights lawsuit was filed in federal court Tuesday against the City of Chicago and the Chicago Police Department, accusing officers of raiding the wrong home and pointing their guns at children during a child’s birthday party.
On Monday, CBS 2 Investigators first reported on this raid and the pending lawsuit, filed by Hofeld & Schaffner on behalf of a South Side family.
According to the lawsuit, 17 police officers – one holding a battering ram, another with a sledge hammer and the rest with weapons drawn – burst into the family’s home Feb. 10 while they were celebrating the birthday of their 4-year-old son, T.J.
But it was the wrong house. The suspect they were looking for no longer lived there.
The lawsuit claims officers violated the family’s civil rights, destroyed their home and handcuffed innocent people at the birthday party. T.J’s birthday cake also was tossed on the floor, the family said.
“It was an act of nihilism, of pure destruction,” said Al Hofeld, Jr., the family’s attorney, at a news conference Tuesday. “Pure psychological destruction by these officers against this 4-year-old and his family.”
Police are supposed to check public records and do surveillance to make sure they have the right homes and not just rely solely on informants.
Our check of public records found the real suspect’s address was nowhere near the home of the birthday raid. CPD refused to comment on the specifics of this raid.
Stephanie Bures, T.J’s mother, said he and her 7-year-old daughter Samari are now afraid of police and are showing signs of emotional trauma.
“He doesn’t want to go to sleep now,” Bures said. “He’s scared.”
In a previous interview with 2 Investigator Dave Savini, Samari said of police, “I thought they were going to shoot me and my brother and everybody else.”
“To hear her say that,” Bures said, “to worry about her or her brother getting shot by someone that’s supposed to protect and serve them, it’s terrifying.”
Over the past six months, CBS 2 Investigators have uncovered four cases of wrong raids by Chicago Police involving innocent children with guns pointed at them.
Father Michael Pfleger, of Saint Sabina Church, attended the news conference Tuesday to support the family. He called these wrong raids by Chicago Police – and the treatment of children during the raids – “unacceptable.”
“These are children,” he said. “Why the hell should children be frightened for their life?”
The children’s aunt, Kiqiana Jackson, said she asked for a warrant 20 times and that officers placed her in handcuffs outside in the cold.
The family also accused the officers of saying cuss words at the children while in the home.
“You see guns,” Jackson cried. “You see, like, guns. You see guns pointing at us and it was like, terrifying. Officers are supposed to protect and serve, not talk to us like we’re nothing, like we’re beneath them. And it was really hurtful, really hurtful.”
Pfleger also demanded police turn over all body camera videos and any records related to wrong raids – records that we have been requesting for months and police have not released.
“If you’re operating in truthfulness and in honesty, there’s nothing to hide,” Pfleger said. “So turn over the records and show it.”
This is the fourth lawsuit filed by Hofeld, Jr. alleging CPD officers pointed guns at young children while executing a search warrant in the wrong place.
“Instead of blowing out birthday candles and having cake on his birthday, T.J. had Chicago police officers point guns at him, his 7-year-old sister and the rest of his family and friends,” Hofeld, Jr. said.
The city law department said they did not receive the lawsuit at the time of this story and therefore cannot comment.