A Black family in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago is suing the city and the Chicago Police Department over a 2019 incident that, according to the lawsuit, has all the familiar hallmarks of the common cop practice of being aggressive and reckless as hell when dealing with Black residents and searching for Black suspects.
The suit alleges that in August 2019, officers forced their way into the family’s home and pointed their guns at everyone, including two Black girls ages 5 and 9—and they did all of this while searching for a suspect the family said was never in their home.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the family’s attorney, Al Hofeld Jr., said the lawsuit filed Tuesday represents his law firm’s 11th case involving cops pointing guns at children of color and that the two young girls represent the 31st and 32nd child counted in those cases.
“We have an epidemic of violence, and the police contribute to it,” Hofeld said, the Tribune notes. “And when it comes to children, in particular—and we’re talking about children of color because this doesn’t happen in white neighborhoods in the city, by and large—there is a silent epidemic of trauma to young children of color that’s been taking place for years because Chicago police routinely do what they’re not supposed to do, which is point their guns at young children often during wrongful home entries.”
According to the suit, around 9:30 p.m. on Aug. 7, 2019, Chicago police got a call about a Black man carrying a gun at a gas station near the family’s apartment. Police officers reportedly said they arrived at the scene and saw four men standing in an alley in front of the family’s building and they all ran when the officers came towards them. They also said one of the men matched the 911 caller’s description. The police report stated that officers saw the men run to the third floor of the building where the family’s apartment is located, and that’s when everything went sideways resulting in the family being traumatized, according to the lawsuit.
From the Tribune:
Parents Regina Evans and Steven Winters were sitting in bed while their two girls and the girls’ grandfather Jessie Evans were asleep, the lawsuit stated. The family had just moved into the apartment about five days earlier.
About 9:40 p.m., officers started beating on the apartment door while screaming, “Open the (expletive) door!” The family did not hear the officers announce themselves as police, the lawsuit stated.
Winters got up and went to the door, saying, “Wait, wait,” and “What’s going on?” as the officers kicked open the door and pointed guns at him, ordering him to get down, the lawsuit stated. An officer got on top of Winters and touched his gun to the back of Winter’s head. The officer then checked his pulse to determine if Winters was the fleeing suspect. Another officer entered the grandfather’s room and pointed a gun at him while he was lying in bed, and a third officer pointed his gun at 5-year-old Reshyla and 9-year-old Savayla, who were lying in their beds even after the other officer yelled, “children on the right.”
The lawsuit alleges that officers falsely claimed in their report that the men they were chasing ran into the family’s home and ran out the back door. But no one in the family seems to recall that happening and the suit states the officers’ body cameras didn’t capture anyone entering or leaving the apartment.
“I think the officers need to be held accountable for their actions,” Evans said during a news conference, the Tribune reports. “And I also think they need better training on how to deal with people. Because I think, in my own opinion, I think that they treat Blacks worse than they treat whites. I can’t call them...because I don’t feel like they would help me at all.”
Regina Evans is most Black people in America.