A Chicago family is filing a federal lawsuit against the Chicago Police Department claiming officers raided a child's birthday party looking for someone who hadn't lived in the building for several years.
Stephanie Burris detailed Tuesday the day Chicago police officers knocked down the door of her Auburn-Gresham home, pointed guns at her family and tore up the family’s basement apartment.
Worse yet, it happened during a birthday party for her 4-year-old son. Even the cake was ruined.
"To worry about her or her brother getting shot by someone who is supposed to protect and serve them, it's terrifying," she said. "It's horrible."
"It's terrifying," she continued. "Can you imagine a 4- or a 7-year-old sitting and playing games with other children, then come in and be confiscated by men with guns pointed at them? I can't imagine that."
Al Hofeld, Jr. is the family's attorney.
"Instead of having his family sing happy birthday to him, 4-year-old TJ had Chicago police officers curse and isult him and his family with f-words and cruel jokes," he said.
The family is filing a federal lawsuit alleging the Feb. 10 raid--in which officers were looking for someone who hadn’t lived in the apartment for more than five years--is part of a department pattern of excessive force employed against or in the presence of children of color on the south and west sides.
TJ's aunt, Kiana Jackson, says she worries the boy will grow up to fear police.
"Not only fearing strangers and bad people, but looking at police like they are bad people," she said.
Chicago police aren’t commenting directly on the suit, but in a statement Tuesday said the department "makes every effort to ensure the validity and accuracy of all information that is used to apply for and execute search warrants" but "errors occur and it does take them seriously."
Rev. Michael Pfleger, whose St. Sabina church is only a few blocks from the wrongly raided home, says police need to change their behavior.
"Treat the children and the houses that you are going into the same way that you treat your house or your children or want them treated," he said.
Hofeld said the officers were not wearing body cameras during the raid.
No one was arrested during the raid, he said.