Three months after the I-Team uncovered allegations that Chicago police hush money was paid to the resident of a wrongly-raided apartment, a federal judge has suggested that such overlooking wrongdoing is part of a "city custom."
A custom that is as Chicago as deep dish pizza and dying the river green.
The case involves a single mother who says she was paid cash by Chicago police after officers raided the wrong location and broke down the door of her apartment.
"They had guns all in my face, guns in my kids' face, they throw me off my bed and put the handcuffs on me. The kids were crying and screaming," said mother Sharon Spearman who told the I-Team she was given $1,000 in keep-quiet-money by a Chicago police sergeant 15 minutes after they realized they were in the wrong place.
"The only thing I felt was like, please don't take my life, or my kids' life," Spearman said.
In a federal civil rights lawsuit, Spearman is suing police and the city, claiming that a code of silence protects payoffs, police shakedowns and other misconduct.
Now, U.S. District Judge Elaine Bucklo ruled that "it can plausibly be inferred from the allegations that policymakers were aware of wrongdoing by police officers and had a custom or policy of failing to discipline them" in cases such as the botched raid on Spearman's apartment.
READ: JUDGE BUCKLO'S ORDER IN SPEARMAN CASE
Bucklo has ruled that her suit may proceed.
Judge Bucklo's statement comes as she denies the city's motion to dismiss Spearman's case against the city. "I conclude that Spearman adequately alleges that the City was aware of, and condoned, a code of silence within the CPD" the judge writes in her order.
Gregory Kulis, Spearman's attorney, said police misconduct cases have been overlooked in Chicago for decades.
"I'm sure the Chicago Police department doesn't give walking around money to its SWAT teams to hand out to people to rectify situations," Kulis said.
Judge Bucklo isn't the first authority to acknowledge a police department code of silence. In 2012, a federal jury found that a blue curtain existed during a brutality case. Even Mayor Rahm Emanuel last December spoke of the police code of silence. The U.S. Justice Department is also looking into this issue.
Judge: Lawsuit involving CPD raid on wrong house may proceed
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