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Illinois Town Will Pay $12 Million to Family After SWAT Officer Shot 12-Year-Old in Kneecap While Sitting on Bed With Hands Up

by Jo Ellen Nott

In early February of 2023, Al Holfeld, Jr., lawyer for Crystal Worship and her son Amir, announced that their federal civil rights lawsuit would be settled by the city of Richton Park, Illinois, for $12 million. The lawsuit arose from a 2019 SWAT raid on the Worship home which resulted in an officer shooting the then 12-year-old Amir with an assault rifle in his right kneecap.

The lawsuit alleged that SWAT team officers from the Country Club Hills and Richton Park police departments burst into the Worship home on the night of May 26, 2019, to execute a narcotics search warrant for Worship’s boyfriend, Mitchell Thurman. He was arrested for illegal gun and drug possession, but the case against him was later dismissed.

The SWAT team entered the Worship residence throwing flashbangs and detained the family at gunpoint. The lawsuit then relates that Richton Park officer Caleb Blood shot Amir in his bedroom “while the child was sitting on the edge of the bed with his hands up and long after it was obvious that a 12-year-old child posed no threat.”   

In addition to the monetary settlement, Al Hofeld Jr.’s office told the press that the settlement requires a public apology from the city of Richton Park, a private apology from Caleb Blood, and the retraining and recertification of Blood. 

Several internal investigations failed to find any misconduct during the raid and shooting of Amir Worship.  “Officer Blood has not yet been held accountable by any agency. He was never disciplined and never even taken off the streets,” Hofeld said in a press release. “You can’t just shoot a 12-year-old child for literally no reason and do it with complete impunity.” 

The Amir Worship settlement is just the latest in a string of costly lawsuits that Chicago area taxpayers must pay.  Hofeld himself has represented 11 families whose children were the targets of law enforcement guns during raids improperly executed.

An investigation by CBS 2 found that Chicago SWAT teams frequently use unverified search warrants to ransack houses, hold families, and terrorize them at gunpoint.  In one instance, an eight-year-old child was handcuffed; in another, 17 Chicago police officers raided a four-year-old’s birthday party. In a 2018 civil lawsuit, Chicago paid out $2.5 million to a family whose three-year-old daughter was held at gunpoint.

Yet Caleb Blood is walking and working just fine as a paid law enforcement officer after taking out Amir Worship’s knee with his assault rifle.  Worship, on the other hand, has undergone five surgeries and prolonged physical therapy.  He is facing multiple knee replacements as he grows and ages and will never play sports again. 

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