We are continuing our discussion of a man who was recently released from prison after serving 11 years of a 14-year sentence. He had insisted from the beginning that he was innocent — more than that, that he was framed by a Chicago police sergeant and another officer. At his trial in 2005, he testified that these officers had been running a shakedown operation in the housing complex where he had been arrested. The judge dismissed his allegations, saying they “fell on their face.”
In 2012, those very officers would plead guilty to charges of corruption. They had run the housing complex like their own criminal fiefdom, just as this man had testified so many years earlier.
His description of their protection scheme had matched information gathered by local and federal investigators who already suspected the officers of corruption in 2005. While that investigation was dropped, another was undertaken a few years later. Informants and whistleblowers provided evidence that resulted in the officers’ arrests. That evidence also matched the man’s explanation of the scheme.
With so many intersecting lines and so much overlapping information, then, why did it take three years for this man’s case to be heard and the charges to be dismissed? The state’s attorney’s office has some explaining to do but does not appear to be in a hurry to do so.
As we said in our last post, the state’s attorney had established a Conviction Integrity Unit to review cases that the officers’ pleas put into question. It was not that unit, however, that moved this man’s case forward. It was his own petition to the court that led to his release. His take on it? “It’s been a long time coming, but I guess slow justice beats no justice.”
The man has been reunited with his family and is relieved to be out of prison. The sergeant who ran the protection scheme was released last year — a year before this man’s false arrest came up for review — and now lives in Las Vegas.
CBS Local, “Attorneys For Newly Released Chicago Man: Why Did It Take So Long?” Suzanne Le Mignot, Jan. 15, 2016
Chicago Tribune, “Case spotlights code of silence among Chicago police,” Jason Meisner and Annie Sweeney, Dec. 17, 2015