$12M settlement for teen shot by Richton Park officer

Amir Worship was accidentally shot in a pre-dawn raid of his home in 2019 when police were looking for the his mother’s boyfriend.

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Amir and Crystal Worship

Amir and Crystal Worship

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Richton Park police will pay $12 million to settle a lawsuit alleging one of its officers shot a 12-year-old boy during a raid of his Markham home in 2019.

As part of the settlement, the officer and Richton Park publicly apologized to Amir Worship, who is now a high school junior and is expected to need multiple knee replacements during his lifetime.

Officer Caleb Blood, who remains an officer for the Richton Park Police Department, claimed the gun was defective and accidentally went off, striking Amir in the right knee.

“Officer Blood should be fired,” attorney Al Hofeld Jr. told reporters Wednesday. “Not only has he not been fired, but Officer Blood has not even been disciplined in any form or fashion for shooting a 12-year-old boy.”

Hofeld said three prior investigations into the shooting were inadequate and called for the Cook County state’s attorney’s office to reopen an investigation into the officer.

“I accept his apology but he was reckless that day,” said the boy’s mother, Crystal Worship. “There’s a lot of healing we have to do.”

Amir’s family has since moved to Texas.

Richton Park released a statement Wednesday as part of the $12 million settlement, which Hofeld said was the maximum payout possible under the village’s insurance plan.

While her attorney Al Hofeld Jr. listens, Crystal Worship discusses a $12 million settlement during a news conference Wednesday. Her 12-year-old son, Amir Worship, was shot by a Richton Park police officer during a 2019 raid of the family’s Markham home.

While her attorney Al Hofeld Jr. listens, Crystal Worship discusses a $12 million settlement during a news conference Wednesday. Her then-12-year-old son, Amir Worship, was shot by a Richton Park police officer during a 2019 raid of the family’s Markham home.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

“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 statement reads.

“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.”

Amir was shot before dawn on May 26, 2019, after officers entered the home of Crystal Worship and exploded flash-bang grenades, Hofeld said.

The officers were part of the South Suburban Emergency Response Team, the south suburban SWAT team composed of officers from each of the south suburban departments. They were looking for Crystal Worship’s boyfriend, who was arrested and charged with drug possession, Hofeld said. The charges were later dropped.

During the raid, officers handcuffed Worship’s 13-year-old son and one officer pointed a rifle at Amir, according to the lawsuit. Amir was sitting on his bed and complying with the officer’s commands when the officer’s gun went off, Hofeld said.

Amir testified the officer was adjusting the rifle when it fired, Hofeld said. The officer had been pointing the gun at Amir’s chest, but Amir leaned back to put his shoes on, so he was shot in his knee instead, Hofeld said.

Amir has undergone five surgeries and suffers from PTSD, Hofeld said.

The officer remains on active duty with Richton Park police but recently requested to be placed on desk duty, Hofeld said.

The officer was dismissed from the South Suburban Emergency Response Team in September 2020 for “committing multiple violations of firearm safety,” Hofeld said.

The officer apologized to Amir and his mother over the weekend in a private meeting, Hofeld said.

In an earlier settlement, Richton Park paid $320,000 to Amir’s mother and two brothers, who were 13 and 18 at the time, for violating their civil rights during the raid, Hofeld said.

Hofeld said children will continue to be shot by police as long as officers continue the universal practice of “pointing guns indiscriminately at everyone in the home when they enter, including children.”

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