Family accuses Chicago police of using excessive force on children during raid

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A South Side family has filed a civil rights complaint accusing Chicago police officers of aiming assault rifles at children, using explosive and profanity, and handcuffing an 8-year-old boy.

Alberta Wilson is still emotionally raw when she talks about the morning raid on her home that left the house damaged and her children traumatized, especially 8-year-old Royal, who was handcuffed by 7th District police officers.

"They are afraid to go to the washroom, they are afraid to sleep by themselves, they are very nervous and jump," Wilson said.

Wilson and her family were awakened by police at 6 a.m. on March 15, executing a search warrant with information that said an assault rifle that may have belonged to one of Wilson's older sons was in the home. Police ordered the mother and her family outside. She said they pointed assault weapons at all of them, including her three younger children who are 6, 8 and 9 years old. The adults were handcuffed, and so was Royal, who remained that way in the freezing rain while Wilson begged officers to release him.

"He was crying and complaining the handcuffs were too tight, he felt like he was about to fall, I had to reassure him God was not going to let anything happen to us," she said.

Police removed Royal's handcuffs when a sergeant arrived on the scene. Wilson and others remained handcuffed for several hours while officers ransacked their home, including ripping portions of the ceiling. A gun was never found. No one was arrested. Wilson said the officers never apologized.

"Chicago police officers behave as if our children of color and their trauma is collateral damage in Chicago," said Al Holfield, Jr., attorney.

Wednesday Wilson and her children filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Chicago Police Department. CPD said it is not protocol to handcuff children and said at the time officers did not know Royal's age.

While there were no arrests, police said the target of the search warrant was on the scene. But Holfield, Jr., said the soundest search warrant in the world is not an excuse for handcuffing an 8-year-old. He is calling on CPD to adopt policies when using force in front of children.
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