CHICAGO (CBS) — A federal civil rights lawsuit has been filed on behalf of the family of an 8-year-old who was handcuffed by Chicago Police when they raided a home in March.
Attorney Al Hofeld, Jr. filed the lawsuit Wednesday. It’s the fifth civil rights complaint he’s filed against Chicago Police on behalf of families who alleged officers traumatized children during bad or wrong raids.
“In all of these cases the tragic result has been that the children now suffer varying degrees of trauma including diagnosed [post traumatic stress disorder],” Hofeld said at a news conference.
CBS 2 first reported on the incident Tuesday and interviewed the Wilson family, who said police ordered them out of their home March 15, pointed guns at three children and handcuffed multiple family members, including Domonique Wilson and her 8-year-old son, Royal.
“It took the breath out of me, the life out of me,” Domonique told CBS 2 Investigator Dave Savini about seeing her child handcuffed.
At Wednesday’s news conference Wilson said, “It’s my belief that the system is supposed to serve and protect. I was very disappointed with the system when I saw my 8-year-old son in handcuffs.”
The lawsuit alleges excessive force against the children and says they have been traumatized, have trouble sleeping, and reported nightmares and anxiety.
A confidential informant, listed only as “J. Doe” on the complaint for search warrant, claimed one of her adult sons who was visiting had illegal guns in the home. “J. Doe” also told police he “interacted with” the individual “over the past year at [the Wilsons’] residence.”
But police didn’t find any guns, nor did they make an arrest. Police also wrote in the warrant, obtained three days prior to the raid, that their background search showed the person was last known to be living at a different address.
The family said police left Royal in handcuffs for 30 minutes.
Police confirmed to CBS 2 the child was handcuffed. Police also said when they learned of the boy’s age, they removed them.
“And when they let go, I had a bruise on my arm,” Royal said, pointing to the area where police handcuffed him.
The family also said while they were outside, the officers searched their home and tore apart their ceiling in search of illegal weapons and firearm paraphernalia. Nothing was found.
For nearly a year, CBS 2 Investigators have uncovered an alarming pattern of police traumatizing children during wrong raids by screaming and swearing in their presence, pointing guns at them and handcuffing innocent parents and relatives in front of them.
“They just have a modus operandi where they come with excessive force from the very beginning. It’s a strategy,” Hofeld Jr. said of the police department. “Hopefully, we’re showing the public need for meaningful reform and re-training and new policy.”
CBS 2’s ongoing investigation into how wrong police raids affect children has led to proposed legislation.
House Bill 51, proposed by Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-District 16), passed the Senate and the House last week. It outlines steps officers would have to take when children are present during police activity to ensure they’re safe from harm, both physically and psychologically. The legislation is now awaiting Gov. JB Pritzker’s signature for it to be passed into law.
“Nobody should get treated the way that me and my family and all these other families got treated,” Domonique said. “These are children that are being traumatized – being woken up out of their sleep to guns pointed at them, thinking that they’re about to get shot down.”
CBS 2 reached out to Chicago Police for comment on the lawsuit filed on behalf of the Wilson family Wednesday. They provided the same statement they sent us for the story CBS 2 reported on Tuesday:
Chicago Police told CBS 2 it “makes every effort to ensure the validity and accuracy of all information used to apply for and execute search warrants.” They also said it is not protocol to handcuff children and that initially police did not know Royal’s age. Once they determined his age, they said they removed the handcuffs. You can read their full statement here.
Later on Wednesday, the Chicago Law Department said in a statement: “We have not yet received the suit and therefore cannot comment.”