Commentary Community

Chicago Mother Sues After SWAT Raids Their Home By Mistake And Holds Assault Rifles To Her Children

A Chicago family is taking legal action against the city after police mistakenly raided their home.

What would you do if you’re sitting at home with your family and the police bust down your front door? They put an assault rifle to your back and tell you to go outside for no apparent reason?  That’s exactly what happened to one family in Chicago.

Ebony Tate told the Chicago Tribune she was sitting at home with her 4-year-old daughter (who was napping) on August 9th when SWAT team members set off flash grenades and stormed through her screen door. Cursing and screaming, the officers ordered Tate and her three other children outside, pointing an assault rifle to the mother’s chest. Tate’s mother who was wearing nothing but a t-shirt and underwear was also forced outside.  Tate’s mother, 55-year-old Cynthia Eason reportedly pleaded for the officers to let her grab clothing to cover herself up, but the officers allegedly ignored her. Tate also suffered a panic attack and required medical attention.

But the women’s biggest concern was for the children. Tate described to the Chicago Tribune how her 8-year-old son shot his hands up in the air when one of the officers held him at gunpoint.

“I did not want them to make a move because I was afraid that they would get shot,” Eason said.”

The family waited for more than an hour. When it was discovered the SWAT team raided the wrong house, the police left without an apology or an explanation.

Photo Courtesy: Law Offices of Al Hofeld Jr.

Al Hofeld, Jr., the family attorney, filed a federal lawsuit on Friday. The officers were labeled in the suit as “rude, nasty and sarcastic” and their actions “were totally unnecessary, excessive, unreasonable, and without any lawful justification.”

Hofeld says the entire incident has traumatized the children who range between the ages of 4 to 13-years-old.  According to the suit, the children “now suffer severe, emotional and psychological distress and injury as the direct result of their exposure to defendants’ unnecessary and terrifying conduct” and have difficulty sleeping and are afraid around police officers.

“Ms. Tate and Ms. Eason have so far protected their children or grandchildren from violent elements on their block,” said Hofeld.  “But they could not protect them from the Chicago police.”

As for the mistaken raid, police had a search warrant for a 20-year-old who allegedly sold drugs to an undercover officer under the stairs near Tate’s apartment. According to the lawsuit, the police arrested this suspect in a nearby apartment.  But the psychological, ethical and legal damage is already. The suit claims the children have shown signs of suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The Chicago police department and the city of Chicago have not responded to the suit yet.

This is not the first time the Chicago Police have barged into the wrong house and pointed assault rifles at innocent children. Back in June, the city council approved a $2.5 million settlement in a lawsuit against the police department after an officer pointed a gun at the chest of a three-year-old girl in a 2013 and handcuffed her grandmother. The little girl also suffered from PTSD from the incident, and according to medical experts she remains traumatized and will likely require psychiatric treatment into adulthood.

Photo Courtesy: Law Offices of Al Hofeld Jr.

And in August, another lawsuit was filed against Chicago Police for allegedly raiding the wrong home of another family and pointing guns at 5 and 9-year-old brothers and their parents. According to CBS, the search warrant officers obtained were full of mistakes. The department was accused of trying to cover up the incident and allegedly refused to show the warrant to the family the night they raided their home.

Photo Courtesy: Law Offices of Al Hofeld Jr.

Hofeld defended both of these lawsuits.

“Between 2012 and 2015, roughly 1 out of 10 lawsuits [Chicago] settled involved someone younger than 18,” Hofeld told The Root “This has got to stop. And I will continue to file these cases on behalf of young children of color until CPD makes it a priority to protect them. Right now, it is not even on CPD’s radar.”

By Alexia McKay
Twitter: @alexiamckayprod