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.
47 Black Men And Boys Killed By Police
1. Botham Shem Jean, 261 of 47
2. Antwon Rose Jr., 172 of 47
3. Robert Lawrence White, 413 of 47
4. Anthony Lamar Smith, 24Source:Getty 4 of 47
5. Ramarley Graham, 18Source:Getty 5 of 47
6. Manuel Loggins Jr., 31Source:Getty 6 of 47
7. Trayvon Martin, 17Source:Getty 7 of 47
8. Wendell Allen, 20Source:Getty 8 of 47
9. Kendrec McDade, 19Source:Getty 9 of 47
10. Larry Jackson Jr., 32Source:Getty 10 of 47
11. Jonathan Ferrell, 24Source:Getty 11 of 47
12. Jordan Baker, 26Source:Getty 12 of 47
13. Victor White lll, 22Source:Getty 13 of 47
14. Dontre Hamilton, 31Source:Getty 14 of 47
15. Eric Garner, 43Source:Getty 15 of 47
16. John Crawford lll, 22Source:Getty 16 of 47
17. Michael Brown, 18Source:Getty 17 of 47
18. Ezell Ford, 25Source:Getty 18 of 47
19. Dante Parker, 36Source:Getty 19 of 47
20. Kajieme Powell, 25Source:Getty 20 of 47
21. Laquan McDonald, 17Source:Getty 21 of 47
22. Akai Gurley, 28Source:Getty 22 of 47
23. Tamir Rice, 12Source:Getty 23 of 47
24. Rumain Brisbon, 34Source:Getty 24 of 47
25. Jerame Reid, 36Source:Getty 25 of 47
26. Charly Keunang, 43Source:Getty 26 of 47
27. Tony Robinson, 19Source:Getty 27 of 47
28. Walter Scott, 50Source:Getty 28 of 47
29. Freddie Gray, 25Source:Getty 29 of 47
30. Brendon Glenn, 29Source:Getty 30 of 47
31. Samuel DuBose, 43Source:Getty 31 of 47
32. Christian Taylor, 19Source:Getty 32 of 47
33. Jamar Clark, 24Source:Getty 33 of 47
34. Mario Woods, 26Source:Getty 34 of 47
35. Quintonio LeGrier, 19Source:Getty 35 of 47
36. Gregory Gunn, 58Source:Getty 36 of 47
37. Akiel Denkins, 24Source:Getty 37 of 47
38. Alton Sterling, 37Source:Getty 38 of 47
39. Philando Castile, 32Source:Getty 39 of 47
40. Terrence Sterling, 31Source:Getty 40 of 47
41. Terence Crutcher, 40Source:Getty 41 of 47
42. Keith Lamont Scott, 43Source:Getty 42 of 47
43. Alfred Olango, 38Source:Getty 43 of 47
44. Jordan Edwards, 15Source:Getty 44 of 47
45. Stephon Clark, 2245 of 47
46. Danny Ray Thomas, 3446 of 47
47. DeJuan Guillory, 2747 of 47
Charges Dismissed Against 15 Black Men Linked To Cases Of Corrupt Chicago Cops was originally published on newsone.com