Amir Worship: Settlement reached for 12-year-old boy shot in 2019 suburban SWAT raid
CHICAGO - A Chicago-area boy still suffers from PTSD after a SWAT officer shot him inside his south suburban home while he sat in bed four years ago.
Amir Worship was shot in the kneecap by a member of the South Suburban Emergency Response Team (SSERT) as they executed a search warrant at his Richton Park home on May 26, 2019.
Lawyers for the Worship family announced Tuesday that a $12 million settlement has been reached. The family, however, says this is not enough.
Amir, who was 12 years old at the time, was shot by Richton Park police officer and SSERT member Caleb Blood with a military style assault rifle.
"The evidence obtained in discovery shows that officer Blood’s shooting of 12-year-old Amir was unconscionably reckless, and officer Blood must be held accountable," the family's attorney, Al Hofeld, Jr. said.
The SSERT entered Amir's family home at 5 a.m. the day he was shot while he and his family were asleep in their beds.
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The officers were executing a search warrant for Amir's mother's boyfriend. Crystal Worship and her children were not targets of the search warrant, according to their attorneys.
SWAT officers entered the children’s bedrooms, roused them from sleep, shouted commands at them, and aimed their assault rifles point-blank at the boys’ bodies, Hofeld said.
Amir and Crystal Worship (Provided by Law Offices of Al Hofeld, Jr.)
The complaint also claims the children never refused to follow instructions, resisted, attempted to flee, or posed any threat whatsoever to the officers at any time.
Officer Blood held Amir at gunpoint despite the room having already been secured by another officer, according to the complaint.
The raid left Amir permanently disabled, after one of the officers shot his right kneecap out with an AR-15. His attorneys said he was sitting on his bed, and trying to put his shoes on, at the instructions of Officer Blood.
"He picked [the rifle] up and quickly aimed it and tilted it back up at me," Amir testified in a deposition. "I started to go down to my stomach and then that's when I put my hand under my knee and felt something warm and wet, so that's when I looked up to see that it was blood."
Amir, now 16, has undergone five surgeries and is expected to require multiple knee replacements during his adult life.
"[Amir Worship] followed all officer instructions and no officer, at any moment, ever perceived him as a safety threat of any kind," said Hofeld.
Officer Blood claimed the gun accidentally discharged.
"It may have inadvertently pointed at him," Blood testified during a deposition. "But I was doing everything in my control at the time, adhering to my training, to operate in a safe manner."
As part of the $12 million settlement, the City of Richton Park apologized publicly, releasing the following statement Wednesday afternoon:
"From the bottom of our hearts, we apologize to Amir Worship, his mother Crystal Worship and their family for the tragic mistake made by a Richton Park police officer on May 26, 2019. The accidental shooting of innocent, 12-year-old Amir, which could have resulted in his death, should never have occurred. We acknowledge the traumatic, physical and mental harm done to him and his family. We sincerely hope and pray that Amir and his family will fully recover, mentally and physically, and live long, healthy, and productive lives."
Officer Blood also personally apologized to Amir.
"I accept his apology, but he was reckless that day and I feel it was intentional," said Amir's mother, Crystal.
Hofeld says there have been three investigations into the officer-involved shooting – one by the Illinois State Police and two by Richton Park police.
The family and attorneys are also calling on the Cook County State’s Attorney's Office to reopen its investigation into what happened and possibly pursue criminal charges against Officer Blood.