Botched Chicago police raid victims Steve Winters and Regina Evans reach $450,000 settlement with city

CHICAGO — A family who accused Chicago police of wrongfully raiding their home has reached a $450,000 settlement with the city.

It happened in August 2019.

Steve Winters and Regina Evans said officers broke into their apartment and pointed guns at the couple’s two young daughters, who were in bed.

And they said the children suffered from “lasting psychological trauma”.

The body camera captured the moment officers broke down the Winters family’s front door.

The family had previously accused police of trying to cover up that they had no evidence to justify the raid.

The federal lawsuit filed last year was the latest to accuse the city’s police department of improperly raiding the homes of people of color. It came months after a black woman sued after officers broke into her apartment and forced her to stand naked and handcuffed while they conducted a search. In this case, the police got the wrong address.

Anjanette Young received a nearly $3 million settlement in December last year.

RELATED: Chicago City Council approves Anjanette Young settlement

According to the latest trial, 4-year-old Reshyla Winters and her 9-year-old sister, Sevayla Winters, were in bed on the evening of August 7, 2019, when officers broke down the door of the family home, stormed it without a warrant and pointed their guns at the girls’ father, Steven Winters. As one officer knelt on Steven Winters’ back with a gun to his head, another entered the girls’ bedroom, where he flashed a flashlight and pointed a shotgun at them. A third officer entered the girls’ grandfather’s bedroom and pointed a gun at him as he slept in his bed.

“Chicago Police Officer Sanchez nonetheless pointed his flashlight and pistol directly at the girls from two feet away as they lay in bed in their bedroom, resulting in nine-year-old Savayla , froze in fear and urinated on herself in her bed, causing four year-old Roof Rashyla to cry and cause lasting psychological trauma to both girls,” said lawyer Al Hofeild Jr.

The girls were so scared they cried and wet their beds, according to the lawsuit. The raid caused “lasting trauma…in the form of nightmares, bedwetting, trouble sleeping, loss of appetite, crying spells and fear and mistrust of police,” according to a news release announcing the lawsuit, which names the city and the officers involved as defendants.

The lawsuit argues that officers not only used excessive force, but entered the wrong house based on a vague description of a suspect with a gun at a nearby gas station. He maintains that footage from their body cameras shows that they were wrong, that no firearms were ever found in the family’s apartment and that no suspects were arrested.

The lawsuit claims that the officers tried to cover up their mistake by claiming in their reports that they heard and saw the suspect they were chasing running into the apartment and then exiting the back – statements which have been proven untrue by the body camera footage, which the family attorney, Al Hofeld Jr., obtained through an open records request.

RELATED: Independent Review of Anjanette Young Case Finds Chicago Made Mistakes, But Nothing ‘Malicious’

“They do not show anyone entering or leaving the plaintiffs’ building or apartment,” the lawsuit states. “Officers found no signs that a suspect had entered. Officers did not arrest anyone. The terror and stress of this innocent family was for naught.”

“It was terrifying for me because I’ve never experienced anything like this in my life, never in my life. The police…I mean, I just got off work, put my kids to sleep and they just kicked down the door,” Steven Winters said.

“My husband was on the floor with a gun to his head,” Regina Evans said. “That was my main goal. One false move and he’s gone.”

Hofeld said the trial is the 11th involving 32 children of color who were similarly traumatized. One was a 3-year-old girl who was in her home in August 2013 when officers executing a search warrant pointed a gun at her chest. The city eventually settled the case for $2.5 million and two officers involved in the incident were stripped of their police powers, according to published reports.

Chicago has paid hundreds of millions of dollars for cases of police misconduct. In 2016, an Associated Press analysis found the city paid $662 million for judgments, settlements and outside legal fees. And while the city’s legal department couldn’t immediately provide statistics on the cost since then, news reports show the total has climbed by tens of millions of dollars a year.

The video in the player above is from an earlier report.

ABC7 Chicago contributed to this report

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