CHICAGO (CBS) — A South Side family will file a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Chicago on Tuesday, accusing police officers of pointing guns at children and terrorizing the family when they raided the wrong home last month.
The federal lawsuit is the fourth case filed by attorney Al Hofeld Jr. accusing police of using excessive force while raiding the wrong homes on the South and West sides.
Seven-year-old Samari Boswell said she was terrified the night of her brother TJ Boswell’s birthday party on Feb. 10, when police officers raided their home with guns drawn.
The family said police smashed TJ’s birthday cake, shouted profanities and insults, and pointed guns at innocent people, including children.
“They were saying F words and stuff,” Samari said. “It was horrible.”
Samari and TJ’s mother, Stephanie 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.
The children’s aunt, Kiqiana Jackson, said she repeatedly asked officers to see the search warrant, but she was denied, even though Chicago Police’s own search warrant policy says warrants need to be turned over “promptly.”
“I wanted to know why were they there. Who are you? Show us a search warrant,” Jackson said. “I guess I asked for a search warrant one too many times, and [an officer] was like, ‘Arrest her.’”
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.
The family also accuses officers of covering up their badges with sweatshirts or other clothing, and refusing to give the family their names or badge numbers.
The lawsuit, to be filed Tuesday in federal court, is just the latest in a series of excessive force cases Hofeld’s firm has filed against the city.
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.
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.”
Hofeld said the Chicago Police Department consent decree governing a series of reforms doesn’t require officers to avoid pointing guns and using force against children when possible.
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.