Convictions were dismissed Thursday against 15 Black men after they said several dirty Chicago Police officers framed them for bogus drug charges, USA Today reported.
A former police sergeant and his crew of cops forcibly requested “protection payoffs from residents and drug dealers in a city housing project.” The credibility of the convictions against the group, filed from 2003 to 2008, was questioned by Cook County prosecutors, they confirmed to Judge LeRoy Martin Jr. Officer Ronald Watts and his subordinates had operated below board.
“In good conscience, we could not see these convictions stand,” Mark Rotert, who heads the Cook County State’s Attorney’s conviction integrity unit, stated.
More convictions could possibly be overturned by the integrity unit, which vows to review any legitimate complaints brought by plaintiffs charged with crimes that were investigated by Watts.
The mass exoneration of the men, who received probation to nine years in prison, is a rare move. But the cases bring to light more collusion within the beleaguered police department, which has been condemned for using brute force against people of color.
The department has been marred by far-reaching racial bias, poor training and failing oversight of cops who commit misconduct.
But the city maintains that there is “zero tolerance for abuse, misconduct or any unlawful actions” by law enforcement, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said in a joint statement.
“The actions of Ronald Watts must be condemned by all of us, and we will continue our work to ensure the abuses of the past are never repeated in the future,” Emanuel and Johnson stated.
Lawyers for the 15 men petitioned for the drug convictions to be overturned two months ago, USA Today reported. Watts and another officer, Kallat Mohammed, pleaded guilty to stealing money in a drug case involving an FBI informant in 2013. Both were sentenced to stints in federal prison.
Allegations were also brought against Watts for harassing residents in a public housing complex in Chicago’s South Side. As many as 500 convictions of people who said they had drugs planted on them by Watts and his crew for refusing to pay them off are also being investigated, Joshua Tepfer, the lead attorney representing the 15 men, said, The Chicago Tribune reported.
Six officers and one sergeant, who was Watts’ subordinate working on the overturned cases, are serving desk duty pending an internal review, police spokesman Frank Giancamilli confirmed.
The corrupt cops’ actions still are causing pain for the exonerated men. Philip Thomas, 58, one of the petitioners, spent more than six years in prison on trump up charges.
“The better years of my life were spent running from them and then in the penitentiary,” Thomas said.
52 Black Men And Boys Killed By Police
1. Emantic "EJ" Fitzgerald Bradford Jr., 211 of 52
2. Jemel Roberson, 26Source:false 2 of 52
3. DeAndre Ballard, 23Source:false 3 of 52
4. Botham Shem Jean, 26Source:false 4 of 52
5. Antwon Rose Jr., 17Source:false 5 of 52
6. Robert Lawrence White, 41Source:false 6 of 52
7. Anthony Lamar Smith, 24Source:Getty 7 of 52
8. Ramarley Graham, 18Source:Getty 8 of 52
9. Manuel Loggins Jr., 31Source:Getty 9 of 52
10. Trayvon Martin, 17Source:Getty 10 of 52
11. Wendell Allen, 20Source:Getty 11 of 52
12. Kendrec McDade, 19Source:Getty 12 of 52
13. Larry Jackson Jr., 32Source:Getty 13 of 52
14. Jonathan Ferrell, 24Source:Getty 14 of 52
15. Jordan Baker, 26Source:Getty 15 of 52
16. Victor White lll, 22Source:Getty 16 of 52
17. Dontre Hamilton, 31Source:Getty 17 of 52
18. Eric Garner, 43Source:Getty 18 of 52
19. John Crawford lll, 22Source:Getty 19 of 52
20. Michael Brown, 18Source:Getty 20 of 52
21. Ezell Ford, 25Source:Getty 21 of 52
22. Dante Parker, 36Source:Getty 22 of 52
23. Kajieme Powell, 25Source:Getty 23 of 52
24. Laquan McDonald, 17Source:Getty 24 of 52
25. Akai Gurley, 28Source:Getty 25 of 52
26. Tamir Rice, 12Source:Getty 26 of 52
27. Rumain Brisbon, 34Source:Getty 27 of 52
28. Jerame Reid, 36Source:Getty 28 of 52
29. Charly Keunang, 43Source:Getty 29 of 52
30. Tony Robinson, 19Source:Getty 30 of 52
31. Walter Scott, 50Source:Getty 31 of 52
32. Freddie Gray, 25Source:Getty 32 of 52
33. Brendon Glenn, 29Source:Getty 33 of 52
34. Samuel DuBose, 43Source:Getty 34 of 52
35. Christian Taylor, 19Source:Getty 35 of 52
36. Jamar Clark, 24Source:Getty 36 of 52
37. Mario Woods, 26Source:Getty 37 of 52
38. Quintonio LeGrier, 19Source:Getty 38 of 52
39. Gregory Gunn, 58Source:Getty 39 of 52
40. Akiel Denkins, 24Source:Getty 40 of 52
41. Alton Sterling, 37Source:Getty 41 of 52
42. Philando Castile, 32Source:Getty 42 of 52
43. Terrence Sterling, 31Source:Getty 43 of 52
44. Terence Crutcher, 40Source:Getty 44 of 52
45. Keith Lamont Scott, 43Source:Getty 45 of 52
46. Alfred Olango, 38Source:Getty 46 of 52
47. Jordan Edwards, 15Source:Getty 47 of 52
48. Stephon Clark, 22Source:false 48 of 52
49. Danny Ray Thomas, 34Source:false 49 of 52
50. DeJuan Guillory, 27Source:false 50 of 52
51. Patrick Harmon, 5051 of 52
52. Jonathan Hart, 2152 of 52
Charges Dismissed Against 15 Black Men Linked To Cases Of Corrupt Chicago Cops was originally published on newsone.com