The Chicago Police Department violated a family’s civil rights by breaking into their home, holding a loaded gun to the chest of a 3-year-old girl while she watched officers put a gun to her grandmother’s head and slam her handcuffed mother against a wall.
But as it turned out, the police had the wrong house, due to a confidential informant giving police false information.
Now the department and the city of Chicago have settled a $2.5 million lawsuit that will go to the family. One million dollars of the lawsuit will go directly to the little girl. The City Council voted on the settlement Wednesday. The City Council’s Finance Committee approved the settlement just two days earlier on Monday.
On August 29, 2013, Chicago police executed a search warrant at a inner city Chicago home in hopes of finding a drug dealer. Cops barged in the home of 3-year-old Davianna Simmons where she lived with her grand parents’ and mother Aretha Simmons. An officer pointed and held a loaded gun at point blank range to the chest of 3-year-old Davianna, reports The News and Observer.
A terrified and crying Davianna watched another officer hold a gun to her grandmother’s head and saw a third officer repeatedly shake, strike and push her handcuffed mother Aretha into a wall. Then, while officers were searching the home, Davianna saw and heard an officer damaging and destroying her dolls, other toys and bedroom furniture.
The target was a drug dealer identified as Alonzo McFadden. McFadden was not related to the Simmons family nor did he live at the residence. McFadden was actually arrested down the street for selling drugs. Police thought McFadden had connections with the Simmons family. The warrant mistakenly stated he lived at the Simmon's residence, but he never lived there.
A confidential informant trying to get back at the Simmon's family for personal reasons told police that McFadden lived and sold drugs at the Simmon's home. Believing the confidential informant word for word, police descended on the house entering the house and searching it.
Dr. Niranjan Karnik, a pediatric psychiatrist at Rush Medical Center says that Davianna now has, “One of the worst cases of child Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [he's ever seen].”
Davianna is now 8 years of age and still remains traumatized from the police raid. Davianna has nightmares and wakes up screaming and crying in the middle of the night. The sounds of sirens and the sight of police make little Davianna run and hide. Officers never explained the situation or apologized to Davianna.
The lawsuit was filed in November 2014, and the Simmon's family Attorney Al Hofeld Jr. says, "We fought like hell against the City of Chicago and the Chicago Police Department all throughout this lawsuit. Two of the officers involved even lied in court about being suspended."
Those two cops were eventually recommended for termination. During pre-trial hearings, Hofeld caught Chicago police officers lying and City of Chicago attorneys withholding evidence they had been ordered to produce, spurring outrage from the bench. Judge Matthew F. Kennelly in the U. S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois threatened to hold post-trial hearings on the City’s conduct and drag city officials in to testify.
Since Davianna still has symptoms from the raid some of the lawsuit money will be used for her treatment. Each member of the family had claims. The two grandparents will split $238,000. The mother will receive $238,000. Davianna will receive a full $1 million. The Al Hofeld Jr. Law Firm will split the remaining $1 million plus dollars with another law firm that assisted in the case.
The Chicago Police Department has a long history of their cops abusing people. The Department of Justice (DOJ) released a blistering report on the Chicago Police Department’s abuses of power and lack of training. The 2017 DOJ investigation found that the department has a pattern of practice of using less-lethal, excessive force against children for non-criminal conduct.
Moreover, between 2012 and 2015 the City of Chicago paid out $25 million in 63 lawsuits involving minors. Chicago police have now revised its use-of-force policy as recommended by the DOJ, but the new use of force policy still does not specifically protect minors or young children from being the target of or exposed to the type of trauma police subjected Davianna to.
In a phone interview Attorney Hofeld told Photography is Not a Crime News that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel is not doing a good enough job on police and community relations.