A Chicago mother is accusing Chicago police of using excessive force on her family, including her 8-year-old son, who officers allegedly handcuffed and left in the freezing rain for 40 minutes, according to a federal civil rights lawsuit filed against the Chicago Police Department.
On March 15, Alberta Wilson and her children, who live in Chicago’s South Side neighborhood, were awoken by bullhorn at 6 a.m. by Chicago Police officers surrounding their home, according to the lawsuit. The officers were executing a search warrant for an assault rifle they thought was in the possession of one of Wilson’s older sons, according to Chicago Police Sgt. Rocco Alioto.
Officers in tactical gear allegedly pointed assault rifles at the family as they exited the home, even after Wilson requested that they lower the weapons due to the presence of children, the lawsuit states.
Once the family reached the street the officers handcuffed them, including Wilson’s 8-year-old son Royal, according to the court documents, which say it was 32 degrees that morning.
“He stood in the street shaking from fear and cold and drenched in the freezing rain,” the lawsuit alleges.
During a press conference Wednesday, Wilson said Royal was crying and complaining that the handcuffs were too tight. His wrists were bruised from the handcuffs, according to the lawsuit. Wilson says her 9-year-old son Roy and 6-year-old daughter Royalty were not handcuffed.
“And I had to reassure him, God is not gonna let anything happen to us,” Wilson said.
Wilson and other adult family members were also handcuffed and kept standing in the cold for two hours while the officers searched the home, according to the lawsuit.
In addition, officers used a “loud explosive device to blow a large hole” in the second-floor ceiling of the home and then detained the adult family members inside the home for another two hours,” the lawsuit states.
Officers also allegedly damaged or destroyed personal property and “shouted profanity and insults at the family” as well as “used abusive and contemptuous language, all within the sight and hearing of the children,” according to the lawsuit.
Police finally left the home around 10 a.m., the lawsuit states.
Wilson said the incident has traumatized her younger children, describing them as “very nervous and jumpy.”
“They’re afraid to go to the washroom,” she said. “They’re afraid to sleep by themselves.”
Wilson’s attorney, Al Holfield Jr., said during the news conference that “Chicago Police officers behave as if our children of color and their trauma is collateral damage.”
In a statement, Sgt. Alioto said the department “makes every effort to ensure the validity of all information used to apply for and execute search warrants.”
“Due to the risk involved with a weapon that could penetrate body armor, the occupants of the residence followed verbal direction given over a public address system and exited the residence without needing to breach the door,” Alioto said.
The target of the search warrant was on the scene, and there were no weapons located in the search, Alioto said. The location searched was the same as the one described on the search warrant, he added.
No one was arrested or charged, according to the lawsuit.
Officers said they did not know Royal’s age when they handcuffed him.
“We’re not perfect, but we do try to ensure that those types of things do not occur,” Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said. “So, I’ll look into it, and if someone has to be held accountable, then we’ll do that.”