Amir Worship is the 12-year-old son of Crystal Worship, an Illinois mother who filed a lawsuit Thursday accusing police in two suburban departments of “terrorizing” her children.
Amir, Crystal Worship’s youngest son, was shot in the knee by a white officer while sitting on his bed with his hands raised, the lawsuit alleges. “This case represents a textbook example of why officers should not aim their guns at children,” said Al Hofeld Jr., Crystal’s attorney, at a news conference.
The shooting occurred in May 2019 at the home where Crystal Worship lives with Amir and her two other sons in Markham, Illinois.
“Someone should be held responsible,” Crystal Worship said. “I feel so sad and hurt that this happened to him.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. SWAT Officers Raided The Residence Back in May
Almost two dozen SWAT officers from Country Club Hills and Richton Park entered Crystal Worship’s residence back on May 26 with “flash-grenades and automatic rifles,” the lawsuit says. They had a search warrant for Worship’s boyfriend, Mitchell Thurnam.
The SWAT teams rushed into the residence dressed in “army fatigues with black cloth covering their faces and wearing goggles,” the family’s attorney told CBS 2 News. They “battered open the two entry doors and set off between two and five flash-bang grenades,” around 5 a.m. while Amir and his two older brothers were sleeping, the lawsuit contends.
Worship’s boyfriend was wanted for possession of drugs and weapons and for not having a valid FOID card (Firearms Owner’s Identification). He was arrested and charged with drug possession, but those charges were dropped.
2. The Lawsuit Accuses an Officer of Covering His Name Tag & Body Cam After Shooting Amir
The Daily Beast reported that, according to the lawsuit, the officer “covered his badge with black tape and covered his body camera,” after shooting Amir in the knee.
Officers stormed into the room where Amir and his older two brothers were sleeping, according to the lawsuit. After the room was cleared, they ordered the boys to get their shirts and shoes on and sit on their beds with their hands up, the lawsuit says. Amir was told to put his shoes on, but first, an officer checked inside of them with a flashlight, the lawsuit alleges.
“When he goes to put his flashlight back in his vest, and then returns his arm and his hand to the handle and the trigger of the gun, the gun discharges,” attorney Al Hofeld said in an interview.
Amir’s kneecap was shattered from that discharged bullet. He cried out for his mother right away. Worship heard her son’s screams and asked one of the officers if they were shooting at her kids. The officers did not tell Worship what happened, according to the lawsuit. They “lied to her and told her they shot someone walking past outside,” the lawsuit states.
3. Crystal And Her Other Sons Were Held at The Police Station For Hours, the Lawsuit Says
Crystal Worship told CBS Chicago the police did not allow her to be with Amir when he yelled out to her for help after being shot.
Though not a target of the warrant being issued that day, Worship said in a press conference that the police grabbed the back of her neck. “I have nightmares and I stay up all night, because I think they’ll come back,” she said.
Amir’s older brother Eric was handcuffed and placed in a squad car alone for an hour, then held at the station for another five. While Amir was being transported to the hospital, Worship says she was held with her older sons at the police station. She was denied the right to go be with Amir during surgery.
4. Other Chicago Families Have Also Accused Police of Mistreating Their Children
The Worship family is asking for $50,000 for “alleged negligence, willful and wanton conduct, assault, battery, and false imprisonment.”
There have been many cases like this recently. An internal investigation was launched by Chicago Inspector General Joe Ferguson after “a disturbing pattern” of behavior by the Chicago Police revealed itself. The police have been executing warrants at the wrong addresses where children are present and being mistreated by police.
Body cam footage shows officers pointing guns at children, cuffing children, and destroying property the subjects of the warrants don’t own. There was an incident recently where an 8-year-old boy was handcuffed by police after his home was raided.
“They had their guns pointed at me and my children,” said the boys’ mother. “I was very, very scared. Nervous.”
“There is a silent epidemic of trauma being perpetrated upon the children and families of color by Chicago and South Suburban police barreling into the wrong homes, handcuffing innocent adults, holding guns on children, handcuffing children, trashing their homes, refusing to show warrants, and screaming dehumanizing commands,” Al Hofeld, Ms. Worship’s attorney, said in a press release that announced the lawsuit.
“Now, children are being shot in their beds,” he added. The police declined to comment on either incident.
5. Doctors Say Amir Will Never Play Sports Again
The bullet that hit Amir, “entered his joint and partially exited the back of his leg on the right side.” His injuries required surgery.
Amir was hospitalized for almost a week and then discharged. He returned soon after due to complications from an infection he developed while healing.
According to his doctor, it’s highly unlikely he’ll ever play football or basketball again. He’ll likely walk with a limp and have difficulty running.
According to his mother, Amir is terrified of police now. He’s moved to Texas with family to feel safer.