Chicago police are accused of pointing guns at a Black family, including two small children and their grandfather, during a wrongful raid.
The federal lawsuit filed on Tuesday alleges police officers broke down the door to the family’s home on the evening of August 7, 2019, to search it without a warrant. Officers are also accused of trying to cover up that there was no evidence to justify the raid.
According to the lawsuit, 4-year-old Reshyla Winters and her 9-year-old sister Sevayla Winters were in bed when officers entered the home. One officer went into the girls’ bedroom and shone a flashlight and pointed a shotgun at them.
The girls were so scared that they cried and wet their beds, and were caused “lasting trauma… in the form of nightmares, bed-wetting, trouble sleeping, decreased appetite, crying fits and fear and distrust of police,” by the raid, according to a news release that announced the lawsuit.
While the officer pointed a shotgun at the girls, another officer pointed a gun at the girls’ father, Steven Winters, and knelt on his back. A third officer entered the girls’ grandfather’s bedroom and pointed a gun at him while he was sleeping in bed.
For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.
The lawsuit is the latest to accuse the city’s police department of wrongfully raiding the homes of people of color. It comes months after a Black woman sued after officers barged into her apartment and forced her to stand naked and handcuffed while they conducted a search. In that raid, officers handcuffed the woman while she was naked while they conducted a search. In that case, police got the address wrong.
The police department didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment about the case.
The lawsuit argues that the officers not only used excessive force, but that they entered the wrong home based on a vague description of a suspect with a gun at a nearby gas station. It contends that footage from their body cameras shows they were mistaken, and that no gun was ever found in the family’s apartment and no suspects were arrested.
The lawsuit asserts that the officers tried to cover up their mistake by claiming in their reports that they heard and saw the suspect they were chasing run into the apartment and then out the back — statements that were proven false by the bodycam footage, which the family’s attorney, Al Hofeld Jr., obtained through an open records request.
“They do not show anyone entering or exiting plaintiffs’ building or plaintiffs’ apartment,” the lawsuit says. “Officers did not find any sign that any suspect had entered. Officers did not arrest anyone. The terror and stress to this innocent family was all for naught. “
The lawsuit also says the city has yet to turn over all of the bodycam footage.
Hofeld said the lawsuit is the 11th involving 32 children of color who have been similarly traumatized. One of those was a three-year-old girl who was in her home in August 2013 when officers executing a search warrant put a gun to her chest. The city ultimately settled that case for $2.5 million and two officers involved in the incident were stripped of their police powers, according to published reports.
The city and department are being sued over a 2019 police raid in which officers stormed into the home of an innocent Black woman, Anjanette Young, and forced her to stand naked and handcuffed for more than a half hour while they searched the place, which turned out to be the wrong address. Mayor Lori Lightfoot was harshly criticized after emails revealed that she learned of the raid in 2019, and not late 2020, as she initially told reporters when a local television station first aired police bodycam footage of the raid.
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