A suburban Chicago family filed suit against the local police Thursday alleging that a SWAT team shot and maimed a 12-year-old in his bed during an early morning raid. The incident took place in May at the in Markham, Ill. home of Crystal Worship and her three young sons, all of whom are black and were in bed at the time. According to the civil suit, it was around 5 a.m. when nearly two dozen police officers barged into the house with automatic rifles, throwing flash-bang grenades, and shouting “police, police, police,” while executing a warrant against Worship’s boyfriend Mitchell Thurman, who was also at the house at the time. Thurman was arrested and charged with drug possession and possessing a gun with an expired Illinois state Firearm Owner’s Identification card, but the criminal case against him was dismissed weeks later.
The raid, however, had a far more lasting impact on Worship’s sons, particularly 12-year-old Amir Worship. The Washington Post describes the scene in the young boy’s bedroom:
… the sounds of the raid had roused Amir. Seconds later, the door of his bedroom flew open. An officer barged in, aiming a flashlight and automatic rifle at the boy, shouting at him to put his hands up, the suit claimed… As that officer searched the room, another one came in with his weapon trained on Amir, the lawsuit said. The second officer, described in the complaint as Caucasian, ordered Amir to put on his shoes. But when the boy tried to obey, the officer snatched one shoe away and examined it with his flashlight, all while keeping his gun aimed at Amir, the suit claimed.
The gun was allegedly not on the “safety lock position” even though “the room had already been cleared … and it was obvious that Amir was a child who was no threat to officers,” the lawsuit said. Then, as the officer was giving Amir the shoe back, he “quickly moved his right hand back to the handle and trigger of his rifle, grabbing it and firing it…”
The shot shattered Amir’s kneecap. “Mom, they shot me!” he screamed. Even after surgery, the suit says there are pieces of the boy’s kneecap that are missing. Shortly after the procedure, Amir was back in the hospital when his wound got infected. Doctors anticipate the gunshot injury will likely require additional surgeries and intensive physical therapy, according to the complaint; it will also likely change the course of Amir’s life—keeping him from playing sports and making it difficult to walk or run for the rest of his life. “Our lives changed,” Crystal Worship said during a press conference Thursday. “It will never be the same.”
Crystal Worship is now suing the two localities from which the SWAT team was comprised—Country Club Hills and the village of Richton Park—as well as several of the officers themselves. The suit is seeking at least $50,000 in damages, according to the Post, for negligence, willful and wanton conduct, assault, battery, false arrest and imprisonment, and emotional distress.