Lawsuit against rogue officers, city settled for $700K

February 2, 2012 4:15:11 PM PST
A Chicago family will receive a $700,000 settlement after they filed a lawsuit against the city and several police officers who broke into their home and tried to extort money from them.

The lawsuit alleges Chicago police ignored repeated warnings about the out of control officers. The plaintiffs say their home was broken into, they were threatened and coerced.

It was a year that still haunts Sharon Wilkins and her husband. "It's just indescribable. We went through so many things. A lot of sleepless nights," Wilkins said.

In their lawsuit, the Wilkins family says they were targeted by a rogue band of Chicago police officers who in 2004 repeatedly broke into their home and blackmailed them for thousands.

"They would say, if you do not produce money for me, then I will arrest your son. I will arrest your brother," said Blake Horwitz, plaintiffs' attorney.

Five tactical officers assigned to the Englewood district are now behind bars after being busted by the feds. The charges involved multiple victims between 1999 and 2005.

Corey Flagg pleaded guilty in 2006 to drug conspiracy charges and fellow cops Broderick Jones, Darek Haynes, Erik Johnson, and Eural Black also pleaded guilty or were later convicted.

Like many of the victims, Wilkins had a relative involved with drugs who was the initial target but the officers didn't stop there.

"They would repeatedly handcuff an elderly woman," said Horwitz. "They repeatedly handcuffed a disabled man, mentally disabled man, young children."

"It's been a long, very, very difficult process. And we're all still healing our wounds," said Wilkins.

The lawsuit names the city and says for years Chicago police ignored warning signs about the officers. Court documents show a combined 190 citizen complaints were filed against two of the men, Flagg and Jones, dating back to 1996.

"The FBI stepped in. Federal prosecutors stepped in. The City of Chicago did not step in," said Horwitz.

For Sharon Wilkins, the settlement can never erase that year of torment. "I feel a little bit better today. And I'm just glad that everything is over with," she said.

An attorney for the city had no comment after Wednesday's settlement hearing.

Court documents show more than 20 lawsuits have been filed against the officers, though it's unclear how many are still pending.

The city's legal department could not tell ABC7 based on its records how much in total it's paid to settle cases involving the officers.