A family on Chicago's West Side says they were traumatized by a mistaken 2015 raid on their home by Chicago police searching for a suspect, who at the time was in an Illinois state prison, serving a 40 year sentence for first degree murder.
Jolanda Blassingame filed suit in federal court on behalf of her three minor children against the city of Chicago and five police officers following the SWAT raid on their apartment in the 1800 block of South Lawndale almost five years ago.
Blassingame accuses the officers, and by extension the city, of excessive force, unconstitutional search and seizure, other violations of the Fourth Amendment, and unlawful arrest, and assault under state law. She filed suit Nov. 5 in the Chicago federal court on behalf of her three sons. They are represented by attorney Al Hofeld Jr., of Chicago.
The lawsuit claims that, during the raid on the apartment on Jan. 29, 2015, a SWAT team, along with plain clothes officers, broke through the "front and back doors of the apartment, threw flashbang grenades inside, and cursed and pointed assault rifles at the children in order to execute a search warrant."
But, the suit states, it was a "huge blunder that hurt an innocent family" as they were looking for a man who had been incarcerated for the previous five years on a murder charge and was at the time serving his sentence in Hill Correctional Center in Galesburg.
This was public information and should have been known by the officers prior to the seeking and executing of the warrant, the complaint said.
During the raid and search of the premises, the officers allegedly pointed assault rifles at the children, including a cousin of the three boys, damaged property, and held the occupants for three hours before leaving without finding any evidence of illegal activity, according to the suit by Blassingame, who the complaint says is the director of a child day care center.
"Chicago police terrorized an innocent family for no reason," the lawsuit claims, alleging the three boys "have suffered serious, emotional and psychological distress and disturbance."
Blassingame, who is African-American, stated that most of those involved in the raid were white males.
The use of excessive force, according to the lawsuit "was directly and proximately caused by ... long-standing, interrelated, failures of official policy, lack of official policy, de facto policies, widespread practices, and/or customs of the City of Chicago."