Chicago mom says cops raided wrong apartment, paid her hush money

ABC7 I-Team Investigation
CHICAGO (WLS) -- A single mother says she was paid cash by Chicago police after officers raided the wrong location and broke down the door of her apartment.

A West Side woman said she was paid $1,000 in "hush money" by a Chicago police sergeant. She says it was to keep quiet about cops storming the wrong place - her place. Now, she is suing the City of Chicago after she says her apartment was mistakenly raided.

"The only thing I felt was like, please don't take my life, or my kids' life," Sharon Spearman said.

On a Sunday night last March, Spearman says Chicago police SWAT team officers broke down the door of her 3rd floor apartment in North Lawndale.

"Once they knocked the door down, 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," she said.

Spearman says her family was terrorized for 15 minutes before officers realized they were in the wrong apartment.

"When I showed them my ID, they looked at it and then they said, they pulled me to the side, 'I think we made a big mistake.' They went next door and they did the same thing to their house, they found what they were looking for, then they came back to my house, one of the sarge, he pulled me to my room and told me, 'We are very sorry that we broke in your house, and we did this to your house, and here's $1,000 for doing this to you, we're sorry,'" Spearman said.

Spearman said she thought it was wrong to take the money, so she went to her pastor for advice.

"He told me to pray about it and he told me to get a lawyer," she said.

She did just that and then filed a lawsuit against the city.

"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," said Gregory Kulis, her attorney.

Spearman says her neighbor across the hall told her police took $10,000 in cash from her apartment.

"When I got the reports, the inventory report, the inventory said, indicates there was $5,000," Kulis said.

That is $5,000 less than what Spearman said her neighbor told her was seized. Kulis says he believes some of the missing money was given to his client.

"It appears on its face that someone decided on the scene that well, we can redistribute the wealth and we'll take care of Ms. Spearman because we made a mistake and the way to cover this up is to not do a report," Kulis said.

Over the past 30 years, Kulis has filed many lawsuits against the police department.

"There's a lot of great police officers out there, but there are a lot of police officers who think they can go out there, they can be sloppy, they can violate people's rights, they don't even have to write a report if they do something wrong because nobody is going to suspend them," he said.

Spearman says even though it has been almost a year since police stormed her apartment, she and her children are still suffering - her son even drawing a picture of police with guns in his face.

"My kids, they were still panicking, I was scared to go to sleep in my house, I didn't want to sleep," Spearman said.

According to police misconduct data kept by the University of Chicago, the officers who came into Spearman's apartment have dozens of citizen complaints registered against them.

Chicago police and the city's law department both turned down the I-Team's requests for interviews for this report.
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