Lawsuit Claims Police Handcuffed 8-year-old Boy

A mother has filed a federal lawsuit against the Chicago Police Department for handcuffing her 8-year-old son for approximately 40 minutes outside in the rain while authorities raided her home.Alberta Wilson filed suit on behalf of her children against the department on Wednesday, May 29, according to the lawsuit viewed by The North Star. The lawsuit states that on March 15, at around 6 a.m., Wilson and her three children were woken up to approximately 20 SWAT officers, six plainclothes officers, and five uniformed officers surrounding her home on the 8900 block of South Laflin Street.

The complaint states that Wilson and her young sons — 6-year-old Royalty, 8-year-old Royal, and 9-year-old Roy — were told to "come out with your hands up for your own safety.” The suit stated that Wilson’s 2-year-old granddaughter, her two adult sons, and their girlfriends were also inside the home during the raid.Wilson and her family complied and left their home with their hands held up in the air. The lawsuit stated that the family, who are Black, were confronted by officers, most of whom were white men, pointing their guns at the family. Wilson had requested that the officers lower their guns because of her children’s presence.

"Officers’ guns were loaded, and their fingers were on the triggers. The children were afraid that they and their families were going to be shot," the lawsuit viewed by TNS read. Police reportedly placed handcuffs on Royal, who the lawsuit describes as a “soft-spoken, well-mannered boy,” in front of his siblings. Wilson and her older sons were also handcuffed in front of the children. Royal was reportedly handcuffed “for approximately 35-40 minutes while he stood in the street shaking from fear and cold and drenched in the freezing rain.”

The handcuffs were so tight around his wrists that he began to cry because he “couldn’t take the pain and discomfort anymore,” the suit states. Wilson kept on asking the officers to take the handcuffs off of her son. The handcuffs reportedly left a bruise on his wrist. “He’s hurting, he’s only 8, he can’t take it anymore. It’s wrong. [The children] have already seen things they’re not supposed to see,” Wilson reportedly told the officers, according to the lawsuit.

Royalty and Roy were not handcuffed, but they were still forced to stand in the street in the freezing cold until their aunt came to get them. Police first refused to let Stephanie Wilson, Wilson's sister, retrieve the children. Stephanie was forced to wait away from the scene before officers permitted her to retrieve the kids, who spent the next two nights with their aunt.Despite complying with the officers, the adults were forced to stand outside in the cold, handcuffed, for two hours while the officers ransacked Wilson’s home, according to court documents. Officers also screamed and cursed at the family.

"Neither the children nor any of the adults refused to follow instructions, resisted arrest, attempted to flee, or posed any threat whatsoever to the officers at any time," the lawsuit stated.The lawsuit stated that Wilson’s three young sons have suffered from emotional distress as a result of the police raid. “Roy, Royal and Royalty now suffer serious, emotional and psychological distress and injury, including symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, as a direct result of their exposure to defendant officers’ use of excessive force,” the suit read. “Their deep distress and related symptoms constitute scars on their young psyches that may never fully heal.”

In a statement to NBC Chicago, police said the officers on scene did not know Royal’s age and the officers were searching for an assault rifle "that could penetrate body armor." "The target of the search warrant was on scene, and while there was no weapon located during the search, the location searched was the same as described on the search warrant," the statement said.

In March, authorities from the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, DC handcuffed a 10-year-old boy. The boy was detained near 5th and H streets NE on March 30 after a 12-year-old boy was robbed at gunpoint, according to a previous statement from Attorney General Karl A. Racine. Police previously told The North Star at the time that they had found a cell phone at the scene but did not recover a gun. The boy the authorities handcuffed turned out to be the wrong suspect and was “totally innocent” of armed robbery.


About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.