“In these cases, we concluded, unfortunately, the police were not being truthful, and we couldn’t have confidence in the integrity of their reports and their testimony, and so, in good conscience, we could not see these convictions stand,” Mark Rotert of the Cook County Conviction Integrity Unit stated in a information convention.
Rotert, of the state’s lawyer’s workplace, stated his crew is now reviewing extra instances linked to drug convictions spanning a number of years.
‘They would body them’
A Cook County decide on Thursday permitted prosecutors’ determination to drop the fees. All the boys had served their sentences for the crimes in query, in line with the Exoneration Project: 14 are free, and one stays incarcerated on unrelated costs.
One of the boys, Leonard Gipson, stated he was framed by Watts on drug costs and went to jail twice due to the officer.
“If you’re not gonna pay Watts, you were going to jail,” Gipson recalled. “I went to jail and did 2 years and 24 months for Watts. I came home, and he put another case on me.”
Gipson’s lawyer, Joshua Tepfer of the Exoneration Project, stated officers took cash from and charged dozens of individuals for crimes they didn’t commit.
“They were skimming off people, and anyone who would get in their way, they would frame them,” he instructed CNN. “And anyone who tried to report them, they would frame them.”
CNN couldn’t instantly attain Watts or Mohammed, who each have served their sentences.
‘Ongoing, systemic, day-to-day corruption’
It wasn’t till the summer time of 2015, although, that Tepfer, the legislation clinic lawyer, discovered of the case of Ben Baker and began investigating.
“What I learned is what Ben Baker said happened to him — that he was framed by this officer who was named Sgt. Ronald Watts, and what I learned right away was that Ronald Watts had been convicted federally of exactly what Ben said had happened to him: being shaken down and framing someone for putting drugs on someone.”
“I started to look into it, and what we slowly realized this was ongoing, systemic, day-to-day corruption by not just Sgt. Watts and not just by his federally convicted co-defendant, Officer Kallatt Mohammed, but by a whole crew of officers that went on with impunity for over a decade on the south side Chicago housing projects.”
“It was torture,” Baker instructed CNN of his jail time. “You’re thinking in your head: How did this happen? How did I go from laying next to my wife and going out with my kids every day to being in this cell every day?”