By Dave Savini, Samah Assad
CHICAGO (CBS) — Another family who said Chicago Police officers wrongly raided their home is suing the city.
Attorney Al Hofeld Jr. is filing a federal lawsuit Tuesday morning on behalf of the Blassingame family. The lawsuit accuses officers of raiding the wrong home, pointing guns at children and traumatizing them.
The attorney says the children are now experiencing PTSD-like symptoms.
This is the tenth family to file a similar lawsuit against the city since CBS 2 first began reporting on Chicago Police wrong raids a year ago.
CBS 2 first reported on what happened to the family in July after they contacted us. Seeing CBS 2’s reporting brought back memories of what happened to Jalonda Blassingame and her four sons in 2015 and she decided to come forward to tell the family’s story.
She said she was cooking dinner while they were doing homework when police threw a flashbang grenade into her home.
“So next thing I know, I just hear banging and bumping. I’m like, what’s that noise? I thought someone was breaking into the house,” she said. “I thought someone was trying to kill us. It was like, boom!”
The children said officers told them to get on the ground and pointed guns at them.
“I felt scared for my life,” said Jaden, who was 10 at the time of the raid. He’s one of 23 children CBS 2 uncovered were traumatized by wrong police raids.
WATCH the full documentary “[un]warranted,” with CBS 2’s Dave Savini.
According to the complaint for search warrant, police acted on the word of a confidential informant who told police weekly heroin sales were being made by a man known as “Ace,” at the address where Blassingame and her children lived then.
But Bell could not have been selling heroin at that address at that time because CBS 2 found he was actually in Galesburg, 200 miles away, at the Hill Correctional Center. He had been incarcerated there for six years.
CBS 2 searched a publicly available database for Bell’s most recent address, as well as the Cook County Court docket and Illinois Department of Corrections inmate database. The search quickly revealed Bell is serving a 40-year prison sentence for murder.
Blassingame was shocked when she learned about Bell — someone she’s never met.
“Nobody stays here but me and my boys,” she said.
The incident serves as another example where police could have taken additional steps to verify the informant’s claims before executing the search warrant.
The complaint said police searched the department’s “data warehouse,” pulled a photo of Bell to show the informant and searched the address on the Cook County Assessor’s office.
You can read police’s response to CBS 2’s request for a statement for the original report here.
Officers’ failure to verify information from confidential informants, and allegations of guns being pointed at children, were the subject of a CBS 2 documentary, [un]warranted. It examined the gripping toll wrong raids have on the lives of innocent families and children in Chicago, and how it contributes to community distrust in police.
As a result of CBS 2’s investigative series, the Peter Mendez Act was passed. It requires police training on how children experience trauma by police actions, as well as training on de-escalation tactics for when children are involved. Chicago’s Office of the Inspector General also launched an audit into the methods the police department use to obtain and execute search warrants.
Police Supt. Eddie Johnson acknowledged the problem at an Oct. 15 news conference. He has denied more than a dozen requests for interviews with CBS 2 to discuss wrong raids. Mayor Lori Lightfoot also said the city’s chief risk officer is now investigating the police department’s search warrant policies and procedures.
In CBS 2’s most recent report, body camera video shows an 8-year-old child handcuffed by police during a bad raid.
The Blassingames’ story came to light after the family shared their story with us by filling out the interactive form below.