Illinois Town Will Pay $12 Million to Family After SWAT Officer Shot 12-Year-Old in Kneecap
According to a lawsuit, Amir Worship was sitting on the edge of his bed with his hands raised when an officer shot him, shattering his kneecap.
The city of Richton Park, Illinois, will pay $12 million to settle a lawsuit stemming from a 2019 SWAT raid during which a police officer shot a 12-year-old boy in the kneecap, a lawyer for the boy's family announced today.
The federal civil rights lawsuit, filed by Crystal Worship on behalf of her son Amir, alleged that SWAT team officers from the Country Club Hills and Richton Park police departments burst into their house on the night of May 26, 2019, throwing flashbangs and detaining the family, including Amir and his 13-year-old brother, at gunpoint.
According to the lawsuit, Richton Park police officer Caleb Blood shot Worship in his bedroom after the room had been secured and "long after it was obvious that a 12-year-old child posed no threat."
"In fact, 12-year-old Amir was shot, shot while sitting on the edge of the bed with his hands up," the lawsuit said. "An officer shot him with his assault rifle, striking him in the knee and shattering his knee cap. At that moment, this officer was pointing his rifle directly at shirtless Amir as he sat on the edge of his brother's bed."
The officers were executing a narcotics search warrant for Worship's boyfriend, Mitchell Thurman, who was subsequently arrested for illegal gun and drug possession. However, the case against Thurman was later dismissed.
According to a press release from the law office of Al Hofeld, Jr., who represented the Worship family, the settlement will also include a public apology from Richton Park, a private apology from Blood, as well as retraining and recertification for Blood.
However, several internal investigations failed to find any misconduct regarding the shooting. Hofeld said the Worship family will call on the Cook County State's Attorney to re-open its investigation and charge Blood.
"Officer Blood has not yet been held accountable by any agency. He was never disciplined and never even taken off the streets," Hofeld said in a press release. "You can't just shoot a 12-year-old child for literally no reason and do it with complete impunity."
The settlement is the latest in a string of costly lawsuit payouts in the Chicago area stemming from botched SWAT raids. Hofeld has represented 11 families who say police pointed guns at their children.
An investigation by the local news outlet CBS 2 found that Chicago SWAT teams frequently rely on unverified search warrants to ransack houses; hold families, including children, at gunpoint; and, in one case, handcuff an 8-year-old child. In another case, 17 Chicago police officers burst into a family's house with their guns drawn during a 4-year-old's birthday party. The members of one Chicago family say officers raided their house three times in four months looking for someone the residents say they don't know.
In 2018, Chicago settled another civil lawsuit by a family who claimed CPD officers stormed their house and pointed a gun at a 3-year-old girl for $2.5 million.
And in 2020, the Chicago Police Department made national headlines after body camera footage showed officers humiliating a naked woman during a wrong-door raid. Chicago police burst into the apartment of Anjanette Young based on a faulty tip and handcuffed her while she was naked, forcing her to stand in full view of male officers as they searched her home.
Responding to the furor over Young's case, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a new search warrant policy for the Chicago Police Department. The city eventually settled a lawsuit filed by Young for $2.9 million.
As for Amir Worship: according to Hofeld's office, he has undergone five surgeries, along with extensive physical therapy. He will likely require multiple knee replacements during his lifetime and will never play sports again.