The Chicago City Council approved a $2,500,000 settlement for a family terrorized by Chicago police. According to the lawsuit, the CPD violated the family’s civil rights by breaking into their home, holding a gun to the chest of a 3-year-old girl, and keeping the child there to watch officers point a gun to her grandmother’s head and beat her handcuffed mother on August 29, 2013, reported Chicago Defender.
The child, Davianna, then had to stand by as officers destroyed her toys and bedroom furniture, according to PINAC.
Police were looking for a drug dealer identified as Alonzo McFadden, who did not actually live at the residence, and was not related to the Simmons family.
Based solely on false information given to police by an informant who did not like the Simmons family, the officers broke into the Simmons’ home, assaulted and threatened the family, and violated their civil rights.
Davianna, who is now 8, still has nightmares because of the incident and wakes up screaming and crying in the middle of the night. She also runs and hides when she hears sirens or sees police.
A city lawyer agreed with many claims in the lawsuit, saying the girl remains traumatized and will likely require psychiatric treatment into adulthood.
Al Hofeld Jr., a lawyer for Aretha Simmons, the girl’s mother, says Chicago Police Department reforms continue to ignore the way officers treat children during arrests. Hofeld said “it is not even on CPD’s radar.”
Hofeld says the issue at the heart of the case – CPD’s failure to have a use-of-force policy and/or provide officer training that protects young children from police use-of-force – remains shockingly common yet invisible in policy and publicity.
Even though the CPD policies ignore the welfare of children, Hofeld said some police departments in other U.S. cities have embraced far-reaching reforms on how officers should interact with children. He says it is important for officers to recognize that the brains of small children and teenagers process information differently than those of adults, reported The News & Observer.
“Thankfully, we now have heightened national visibility and outrage focusing on police fatally shooting young African-American men. What we are still not hearing are the stories of thousands of children routinely being terrorized by police, like the Chicago Police officers who held a gun to the chest of 3-year-old Davianna Simmons,” Hofeld said. “Between 2012 and 2015, roughly 1 out of 10 lawsuits the City settled involved someone younger than 18. 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.”