A federal lawsuit filed Wednesday accuses the Chicago Police Department of handcuffing an 8-year-old child, then forcing him to stand in the freezing rain as police raided his family’s home earlier this year.
“I felt very afraid, terrified,” the little boy’s mother, Alberta Wilson, said during a news conference at her lawyer’s office.
As reported by the Chicago Sun-Times, Wilson’s complaint recalls the day officers stormed her South Side home on March 15, ordering her and her family out at gunpoint. The lawsuit accuses police of using excessive force, specifically against Wilson’s son, Royal Smart.
Not only did officers aim their assault rifles at Wilson’s younger kids — ages 6, 8, and 9 — but they also spewed profanity at them.
“Once the family reached the street, police handcuffed them,” it states. “Officers handcuffed short, 8-year-old Royal for no reason for approximately 35 to 40 minutes while he stood in the street shaking from fear and cold and drenched in the freezing rain. The handcuffs were too tight, and his wrist bruised.”
The drama unfolded just after 6 a.m. when police officers arrived to execute a search warrant based on information suggesting a assault rifle belonging to one of Wilson’s children was inside the home, according to ABC7.
The adults were handcuffed, as was Royal, who remained that way in the frigid rain until Wilson begged police to let him go.
“He was crying and complaining the handcuffs were too tight, he felt like he was about to fall,” the frustrated mother recalled. “I had to reassure him God was not going to let anything happen to us.”
Al Hofeld Jr., an attorney for the family, said others were handcuffed for up to two hours as officers ransacked the home, even using an explosive device to blow a hole in the ceiling. They failed to find the weapon they were looking for, however.
No one was arrested and no charges were filed. Still, Wilson says police haven’t apologized for the incident.
“Even after they released him out the handcuffs, they showed no remorse,” she said. “He’s a baby. Where’s your leadership? ‘Sorry, young man. We’re sorry for placing you in handcuffs, are you OK?’ None of that was shown.”
The harrowing incident has left the family on edge, and Hofeld said the kids now suffer from symptoms of PTSD.
“In Chicago, we are still in the dark ages when it comes to policing and children,” he said, adding “Chicago police officers behave as if our children of color and their trauma is collateral damage.”
Hofeld argued that this case and others he’s filed highlight the urgent need for an overhaul in the rules and training for police when kids are involved.
Chicago’s FOX 32 reported that Wednesday’s lawsuit is the fifth involving children of color suffering PTSD from police raiding a wrong home.
CPD hasn’t commented on the complaint but said it’s not protocol to handcuff children. The department added that at the time officers were unaware of Royal’s age.
Watch more in the video below.