An Illinois mother filed a lawsuit on Thursday accusing police officers of “terrorizing” innocent children after her unarmed, 12-year-old son was shot in his bed with an assault rifle during a pre-dawn raid on their home.
The lawsuit alleges that nearly two dozen Country Club Hills and Richton Park SWAT officers entered Crystal Worship’s home in May with exploding flash-grenades and automatic rifles to execute a search warrant intended for her boyfriend. During the raid, her black son, Amir, was allegedly shot by a white officer as he sat on his bed with his hands in the air and suffered a shattered kneecap.
“There is a silent epidemic of trauma being perpetrated upon the children and families of color by Chicago and South Suburban police barreling into the wrong homes, handcuffing innocent adults, holding guns on children, handcuffing children, trashing their homes, refusing to show warrants, and screaming dehumanizing commands,” Al Hofeld Jr., the family’s attorney, said in a press release announcing the lawsuit.
“Now, children are being shot in their beds,” he added.
The lawsuit, which was filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County on Thursday, names the city of County Club Hills, the village of Richton Park, and several police officers as defendants. The family is seeking $50,000 in damages for alleged negligence, willful and wanton conduct, assault, battery, and false imprisonment.
On May 26, 2019, officers dressed in “army fatigues with black cloth covering their faces and wearing goggles” entered the family’s home at about 5 a.m. while Crystal Worship and her three sons—Amir, 13-year-old Eric, and 18-year-old Robert—were asleep, according to the lawsuit. The court documents allege the officers “battered open the two entry doors and set off between two and five flash-bang grenades,” while executing a search warrant for Crystal’s boyfriend.
The boyfriend, Mitchell Thurnam, was arrested and charged with drug possession in a case that was dropped weeks later.
Once inside the house, the lawsuit alleges, SWAT officers went to the children’s bedroom and shouted “commands at them” while holding their assault rifles.
“The children were terrified they were about to be killed,” the lawsuit states.
One officer allegedly continued pointing his firearm directly at Amir, who was shirtless and sitting at the edge of his bed with his hands in the air, even after the room had been cleared. After asking his age, the officer “pulled him up and off of his bed and told him to sit on his brother’s bed... and to put a shirt one,” the lawsuit alleges.
Thirty seconds later, another officer entered the room and allegedly told Amir to “put his shoes on” but then snatched the child’s shoes away when he tried to follow his orders. The officer then “asked which pair of shoes in the room were his” and examined one of the shoes with a flashlight, the lawsuit says.
While handing the shoe back to Amir and trying to put his flashlight away in his vest, “the officer quickly moved his right hand back to the handle and trigger of his rifle, grabbing it and firing it,” the lawsuit states.
After the officer shot Amir in the knee, shattering his kneecap, he allegedly “covered his badge with black tape and covered his body camera.”
“Mom, they shot me,” Amir started to yell, according to the documents. “I can’t move it.”
As Amir started screaming, Crystal Worship asked officers in the next room if they were “shooting” the children, the lawsuit says. Officers allegedly refused to tell her what happened and “lied to her and told her they shot someone walking past outside.”
The lawsuit also alleges Eric heard his brother being shot while another officer pointed an assault rifle at him. He was handcuffed and placed in a squad car alone for an hour before officers held him at the station for five hours, according to the documents.
Amir Worship was transported to the hospital after the bullet “entered his joint and partially exited the back of his leg on the right side”—an injury that required surgery, the lawsuit states.
The boy was initially hospitalized for four days after the surgery, and later returned after he “developed complications from infection” which included a high fever, blurred vision, and blacking out twice, the family says.
“According to an orthopedic doctor, Amir will not be able to play any sports again, will have difficulty in physical education, will walk with a limp, and will have difficulty walking and running for the rest of his life,” the lawsuit states.
A spokesperson for the Country Club Hills Police Department declined to comment on Thursday’s lawsuit, citing an ongoing investigation with the Illinois State Police. Richton Park Police did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s requests for comment.
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