CHICAGO (STMW) — David Stewart and Sharon Wilkins learned at least two lessons during their year of terror: Get to the door quickly and always keep plenty of cash on hand.
Week in and week out, a band of rogue Chicago cops showed up at Wilkins’ mother’s Roseland home in 2004, smashing down the door if no one answered and then getting really nasty if the residents didn’t cough up enough money.
“They would rough us up, put us all down in handcuffs — handcuff my old, sick mother — point guns at people, kick you,” Wilkins, 44, recalled Friday, one day after city lawyers agreed to pay her family $700,000 to settle a federal lawsuit against the city and the crooked cops.
Wilkins said the money hardly compensates the family for the ordeal, but she says the city has “kind of finally acknowledged that their officers were out here being really just criminals.”
A city spokesman offered a terse statement about the case.
“There’s a proposed settlement agreement, but [it’s] subject to City Council approval, and we can’t discuss details of the settlement until it’s presented at City Council for their approval,” said Roderick Drew, a spokesman for the city’s Law Department.
Wilkins and Stewart say the cops began paying visits in early 2004, having learned that Wilkins’ brother had a criminal history.
The officers repeatedly threatened to plant drugs on the brother and arrest him if they didn’t receive enough money, the family said. During one visit, an officer held a handgun to the head of Stewart and Wilkins’ son, Rashi Gant, then 10 years old.
“I thought he was going to shoot me,” Gant, now 18, recalled Friday.
The abuse lasted through much of 2004, the family said.
The officers were later arrested on federal drug distribution charges.
In 2008, a federal judge sentenced Corey Flagg, the ringleader of the group, to nine years in prison. Flagg got a break because he cooperated with investigators in explaining how and the other rogue officers robbed drug dealers for cash and cocaine.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2012. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)