CHICAGO (CN) - A mother says she repeatedly warned school and city officials that her son was in danger because of racial tensions at his high school, but her warnings were ignored and her son was shot in the back in the school parking lot.
Calvette Mixon and her son Robert sued Chicago, its Board of Education and six of its members, Hubbard High School principal Andrew Manno and police Cmdr. C.J. Kupczeyk, in Federal Court.
Robert Mixon was shot on Jan. 26, 2010. Robert is black; Hubbard has a predominantly Latino student body. It is an inner-city school on Chicago's South Side.
The Mixons' attorney, Sean Mulroney, told Courthouse News in an interview: "The real problem is the mother tried to do everything she could to prevent the situation.
"She knew that her son and some of his friends had been targeted. She went to the principal, the Board of Education and the head of the district. She told them this was going to be a problem and got no help from anybody. Had they done anything, as simple as walking the kids to the bus, this could have been avoided."
In her complaint, Calvette Mixon says she "repeatedly told defendant Principal Manno" and the six other school employees, "and Commander C. J. Kupczeyk of the Chicago Police Department that racial tensions at Hubbard High School were dangerously elevated and that her son was at risk of extreme bodily harm. None of the defendants took any action."
Robert Mixon played varsity football for Hubbard, on a team that was predominantly black. Calvette says at the beginning of the 2009-10 school year, families team members "met with defendant Manno, various teachers and the coaching staff to discuss the need for increased supervision and security for the black football players. No additional security measures were taken."
The Mixons say that "on or about the weekend of January 15, 2010, there was an altercation in the neighborhood near Hubbard High School between unknown Hispanics and blacks. As a result of this altercation, there was an increase in known gang member presence on and around Hubbard High School grounds and an extreme increase in tensions between Hispanics and blacks at the school."
Calvette says she contacted Manno again about her son's safety, but he told her, "I got it under control."
Calvette Mixon says she called the sex defendant members of the Board of Education, and was told that someone would call her back, but they did not.
She says she contacted Kupczeyk, told her that "the people involved in the escalating tensions had been 'taken care of.'"
The complaint states: "On January 26, 2010, after football practice, Robert was walking to the school bus with several other football players when he realized that he had forgotten his backpack. As he was running back to school, he noticed two Hispanic young men (one of whom he recognized as a student at Hubbard High School) throwing up gang signs. One of them shouted, 'Shoot him,' and the other did shoot him in the back in the parking lot of Hubbard High School."
Calvette says her son "has been traumatized and permanently affected by being shot on school grounds. Robert Mixon also has suffered and will continue to suffer physical pain and complications from the bullet wound. Robert Mixon has incurred and will continue to incur medical expenses and loss of a normal life."
In addition, she says, she "now has to live with the knowledge that she was aware of the potential danger to her youngest son and in spite of her best effort to protect him was unable to prevent him from being shot. She must also live with the knowledge that Robert Mixon may never be able to lead a completely normal life and enjoy activities and passions such as varsity football."
Mulroney said Robert "was hospitalized for quite a while and then underwent home recovery. He was out of whack for a month. He still goes to the hospital regularly for checkups and X-rays. The bullet could move to an artery or to the lung, in which case he'd have to have more surgery."
The Mixons seek damages for "willful and wanton misconduct," racial discrimination, denial of equal protection, violation of the Illinois Civil Rights Act, negligent supervision and negligence.
"Fortunately, Robert lived, but the bullet remains lodged in him, and he can't play contact sports, which was his passion," Mulroney said.
Subscribe to Closing Arguments
Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.