Family sues after police raid home while target was behind bars

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CHICAGO — A family filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the City of Chicago following a raid that went wrong.

The raid happened at an apartment in the city’s Lawndale neighborhood on Jan. 29, 2015.

Jolanda Blassingame was cooking dinner for her three sons while they did their homework and played video games. That’s when Chicago police SWAT officers barged in.

“Threw flash bang grenades inside and repeatedly pointed assault rifles at the children and at (Blassingame), in order to execute a search warrant for a previous occupant of the apartment who had not lived there for nine years,” said attorney Al Hoefeld, Jr.

The attorney said police officers were serving a search warrant for accused drug dealer Derec Bell, who was already in jail.

Bell was serving a 20-year prison sentence for murder in Hill Correctional Center in Galesburg.

Hoefeld said the police could have discovered that if they checked its own CLEAR database.

“It’s routine in every search warrant, everyday of the year, for officers to check that database for the target of a search warrant, to see that person’s criminal history, to see if they can tie them to an address, to see if he’s incarcerated or not,” said Hoefeld.

Blassingame’s family had lived in the apartment for two-years and never knew Bell.

She said her kids remain traumatized about the experience and suffer severe PTSD-like symptoms.

Their attorney said the kids are anti-social, have separation anxiety, and do not trust the police.

The family said police damaged of destroyed personal property, toys, family heirlooms and jewelry.

The Chicago Police Department issued a statement that said, “The Department is also working with the City’s Chief Risk Officer and Office of Inspector General to review the department’s policies and practices in an effort to identify trends, strengths and address any weaknesses related to applying and executing search warrants.”

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