A family in Illinois has filed a lawsuit claiming that Chicago police officers used excessive force against an 8-year-old child during a raid on their home.
Chicago police arrived at the Wilson family home on March 15th with a search warrant and ordered Dominique Wilson and her three children out of the home at riflepoint. They then handcuffed multiple family members, including 8-year-old Royal Wilson. Royal was handcuffed for 35-40 minutes and suffered bruising to his wrists.
The lawsuit claims that not only was excessive force used but that all three children are traumatized at being held at gunpoint and are having trouble sleeping due to nightmares and anxiety.
“They made me stand up straight and my hands behind my back, and they had them tight,” Royal told CBS Chicago. “My legs were shaking.”
The police raided the house on the information of a confidential informant who claimed that one of Dominique Wilson’s adult sons, who does not live at that residence, had illegal guns in the home. Police did not find any guns and made no arrests.
Police have stated that it is not protocol to handcuff children and that once they had determined Royal’s age the handcuffs were removed.
This will make the fifth lawsuit that Attorney Al Hofeld, Jr.has filed against the Chicago Police on behalf of families who say officers have traumatized their children during raids. All of the lawsuits involved children of color who have had police point guns at them unnecessarily.
Hofeld says the 15 children he represents “illustrate for Chicago the silent mass trauma of kids of color caused by the police department’s routine practice of pointing guns at children.”
But this problem has been ongoing for years. CBS Chicago has repeatedly reported on other instances of police pointing guns at children during raids.
During one incident the family was celebrating a 4-year old’s birthday party and the police pointed their guns at children. Another incident involved police showing up during a family dinner and pointed an assault rifle at a child. A third incident involved a grandmother and her grandchildren, where an officer pointed a gun at one of the children’s head.
According to CBS Chicago, in all three of the above cases, “Chicago Police officers had the incorrect address listed on a warrant and raided the wrong home, traumatizing innocent families and children.” CBS also uncovered that in all situations the footage that should have been captured on police body worn cameras were missing or never recorded at all.
In December 2017 the Department of Justice found during an investigation that the Chicago police department had a “pattern or practice” of using excessive force against children for non-criminal conduct.
This investigations of the Department of Justice and CBS Chicago have prompted proposed legislation in the Illinois Senate in the form of House Bill 51, which outlines steps officers would have to take if children are present during police activity. The Bill passed the Illinois Senate with a unanimous vote on Tuesday and is now headed to the state House for a vote.