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Two Chicago police officers filed a federal lawsuit Thursday alleging that high-ranking Chicago Police Department officials blacklisted them after they attempted to blow the whistle on crooked colleagues who were engaged in illegal activities.
Shannon Spalding and Daniel Echeverria allege in the lawsuit [PDF] that they saw police colleagues shaking down drug dealers and framing innocent people when they were sent to the Ida B. Wells public housing complex to work undercover, according to the Chicago Tribune.
When they attempted to report the wrongdoing, they were first told by their supervisors to "disregard" the incident, the Tribune reports. When they took their report to the FBI, they say they were labeled "rats" and were essentially demoted within the force.
Spalding and Echeverria's undercover work eventually contributed to federal charges being filed against two officers -- Sgt. Ronald Watts and Ofc. Kallat Mohammed, NBC Chicago reports.
"I almost feel punished for doing the right thing," Echeverria said Thursday, according to the station.
The lawsuit names 12 members of the Chicago Police Department for their role in the alleged violation of both the first amendment and the state whistleblower protection act, including Deputy Superintendent Debra Kirby, in addition to the city, according to Fox Chicago.
"How do you go to work for someone who is working against you? All because you were involved in an investigation that uncovered internal corruption," Spalding said, Fox reports.
The Chicago Police Department's so-called "code of silence" is also currently being considered in an unrelated trial of former police officer Anthony Abbate and the city of Chicago.
In court Thursday in the Abbate trial, a top police commander testified that the state's attorney's office made the decision to treat the officer's brutal 2007 bar beating of Karolina Obrycka as a misdemeanor, though it was upgraded to a felony once video of the attack was released and went viral.