The Chicago Police Department has recently released body camera footage that was recorded seven months ago showing what happened when they raided an innocent family’s home on March 15.
The family had been demanding the body-cam footage from the police for months, however, the video was only released after CBS 2 reported how the police department initially denied the family’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
In a denial letter sent to the family regarding their request for the video in July, the department wrote it would be “unduly burdensome” for police to collect, review and redact 16 hours of video.
“It’s burdensome because it’s something to hide, and because it’s something [police] don’t want to be exposed,” Domonique Wilson said. “I have every right to see those videos.”
The video shows Domonique’s 8-year-old son, Royal, being handcuffed by police after SWAT officers ordered them out of their home.
“It took the breath out of me, the life out of me,” Domonique said.
In the video, officers can be seen surrounding the family who is in the middle of the street with their hands cuffed behind their backs. Royal, Domonique and other adult family members can be seen with their hands already behind their backs, handcuffed. There are other children present, however, they were not handcuffed.
Domonique and another adult relative can be heard repeatedly asking officers why they would handcuff an 8-year-old child, and asking them to remove the handcuffs from Royal.
“I was just scared. My legs were shaking,” Royal said in May. “They made me stand up straight and hands just behind my back, and they had [the handcuffs] tight. My mom…told them, I’m a little kid, can you please take them off?”
Records show the search warrant was executed at 6:03 a.m. The bodycam footage shows Royal was questioned and held in handcuffs until 6:35 a.m.
The video released by the police doesn’t show the first 20 minutes of the raid. According to the Wilson family, this was when the police pointed guns at them and ordered them out of their home. The video also doesn’t show when Royal was first handcuffed.
“They’re hiding that they put rifles to me and my children’s heads,” Domonique said. “Aimed rifles at us.”
Chicago Inspector General Joe Ferguson has launched an audit into how officers obtain and execute search warrants.
He said officers handcuffing an 8-year-old is “an extraordinary event that should happen in the most extreme circumstances.”
“And that would require a hell of a lot of justification,” Ferguson said, adding police should determine the probability of children being in the home as part of their pre-raid planning.
In a past statement to CBS 2, police said it is not protocol to handcuff children and they did not know Royal’s age when they handcuffed him.
Police reported that the raid on the Wilsons’ home was to execute a search warrant based on information they obtained from an informant. According to the police, the informant told them he saw illegal guns in the home. The target listed on the warrant didn’t live at the home, however, he was visiting the home at the time of the raid. Police didn’t find any guns or anything illegal in the home and no one was arrested.
The family has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit.
Royal said he still has nightmares after he was handcuffed.
“They did something very wrong that they have to be held accountable for,” Domonique said.