CHICAGO (CBS) — A federal civil rights lawsuit has been filed on behalf of a family who said Chicago Police officers raided the wrong home three times this year and pointed guns at children.
Attorney Al Hofeld, Jr. filed the lawsuit Friday morning on behalf of Krystal Archie and her three children, Savannah, Telia, and JJ. It’s the sixth civil rights complaint Hofeld has filed against Chicago Police on behalf of families who alleged officers used bad information to enter their home and traumatized children in the process.
“Imagine if the police wouldn’t stop coming to your home and pointing guns at your children,” Holfeld said at a news conference announcing the lawsuit.
CBS 2 Investigators first reported on the incident Thursday and interviewed the Archie family and the children, who said they feared for their life when officers busted down their door seeking a suspect they didn’t know – first in February, then in April and again in May.
“We all now have to now look over our shoulders, and who do we look for to protect us? We can’t see them [the police] in that light anymore,” Archie said at the news conference on Friday.
One of the raids began with 8-year-old JJ Jackson playing in his room, when he heard a loud bang.
Not long after, he saw Chicago Police officers in his family’s first floor apartment. They had busted through the front door with guns in hand, he said.
“They had their finger on the trigger,” JJ said.
Police were there to execute a search warrant. But in the midst of the chaos, his 11-year-old sister, Telia, said police pointed guns at them. She was scared JJ was going to be shot.
“I was afraid and confused,” Telia said. “I thought something was going to happen to him, and that I wouldn’t see him after.”
In the three raids, police sought narcotics and individuals named “Lord,” “Peanut” and “Lord T,” respectively, based on the information from a confidential informant.
But the individuals did not live at the family’s address, nor did the family know them, they said. Police ultimately arrested someone who lived in a different apartment during the first raid.
“Before I could even see where the banging was coming from, I had officers storming into my house with guns pointed in my face,” Archie said. “They’re hollering, they’re cursing, ‘Get the f–k down, get the f–k down.’ And here I am, an innocent person.”
Archie said the officers ransacked her apartment and destroyed many of her belongings each time they raided the home. It wasn’t long after she cleaned up her home from the first and second raids that officers came back again.
“It’s scary, it’s traumatizing,” Archie said. “It is mentally disturbing.”
Hofeld said the children are beginning to show symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder after the incident, and are having trouble concentrating at school and sleeping at night.
“Sometimes when I dream, it goes straight into a nightmare,” JJ said.
As part of that same report, CBS 2 also interviewed another family, the Blassingame family, who said their home was wrongly raided in 2015 and officers pointed guns at innocent children. CBS 2 found police were seeking a suspect the family didn’t know, and who had been in prison 200 miles away at the time of the raid.
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.
In response, Mayor Lori Lightfoot called for reform within the police department, and Chicago Inspector General Joe Ferguson said he launched an investigation – conducting an audit on how police are obtaining and executing search warrants.
“Every one of these incidents is an aggravator and a perpetuator of mistrust that exists,” Ferguson said. “It really calls for a greater accountability and examination.”
At the news conference Friday, Hofeld sent a strong message to the Chicago Police officers involved in the raids on the Archie family’s home, and to Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who has refused CBS 2’s requests for interviews for nearly a year.
“Leave this innocent woman and her children alone,” Hofeld said. “And I am saying to the involved officers, stop harassing this family. Don’t come back.”