Officers accused of excessive force

May 1, 2008 4:04:05 PM PDT
One of the boys wrongly accused in the 1998 murder of Ryan Harris alleges police used excessive force in another case. Elijah Henderson, Junior, 18, was arrested Tuesday, along with other members of his family after an incident that began as a traffic violation.

Police say they tried to pull over Henderson's father, Elijah Henderson, Senior, for a seatbelt violation on Tuesday. According to the family, Henderson Senior did not know he was being pulled over so he drove to his home. Elijah Henderson, Junior, was also in the car. That's where officers allegedly used excessive force while making an arrest, according to the family.

"He was unaware that somebody was following him or stopped him. They kicked in the door. They tore a screen off the door. And when they came in with guns blazing is when they met his family," said Andre Grant, Henderson's attorney

"They came back in the house after they had him in the car, and that's where everything started. [They] came in fighting. They came in 25 deep," said Rosetta Crawford, Henderson's grandmother.

"This right here is where they threw my daughter against the wall, hit her head up here before they threw her down over here," said Sonya Crawford, Henderson's mother. "They used their knees, they had her here. It was about three or more here."

Six people- including 14-year-old and 15-year-old girls- were arrested in the incident.

"They beat him in my dining room. His sisters laid on top of him to keep him from being beat. That's when they got charged. They did try to protect their brother, yes, they did," said Rosetta Crawford.

Henderson Junior is accused of striking a police officer. He is charged with aggravated battery to a police officer and is expected to be released on bond. His father faces a seatbelt violation.

Chicago Police Department officials said the recent arrests are under review.

"These are allegations. The matter will be referred to the independent police review authority, who will thoroughly investigate. But right now, we have allegations. There was an incident in the sixth district, but the only thing that we can confirm at this point is that we will look into the matter," said police spokesperson Monique Bond.

"It's not a coincidence that they ran into a black home on the South Side of Chicago with no probable cause," said Lewis Myers, Henderson's attorney.

Henderson has a clean record. However, a decade ago, Henderson, who was 8, and another boy were accused in the murder of a young girl, Ryan Harris. The 11-year-old's body was found in a vacant South Side lot in 1998. After a month, the boys were cleared in the case after tests showed semen on Harris' clothing was not from them.

Floyd Durr, a convicted sex offender, pleaded guilty in the case after DNA tests linked him to the body. He was sentenced to life in prison in April 2006.

The city settled with Henderson in the wrongful arrest case for $6.2 million.


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