15 males exonerated in instances linked to deprave Chicago cop

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“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.

Seven different officers have been positioned on desk responsibility pending an inside badessment of extra incidents, the Chicago Police Department instructed CNN. Those officers all labored beneath Watts, CNN affiliate WBBM reported.

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’

The males whose costs had been tossed alleged that Watts and his crew of officers planted medication on them throughout arrests between 2003 and 2008, then falsified police reviews, resulting in their convictions, in line with the Exoneration Project, a free authorized clinic on the University of Chicago Law School that introduced the instances to county prosecutors.

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.

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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.”

Watts and then-Officer Kallatt Mohammed pleaded responsible in federal court docket in 2013 and 2012, respectively, in reference to stealing cash from a drug suspect who turned out to be an FBI informant. Watts was sentenced to 22 months in jail; Mohammed obtained 18 months.

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.”

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“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.”

Baker was freed final yr after almost 10 years in jail when the state’s lawyer dropped drug costs that Baker claimed had been concocted by Watts and his crew, CNN affiliate WLS reported.

“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?”

Baker final yr filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in opposition to town of Chicago and 17 officers for framing him and overlaying it up for the last decade he sat in jail. The go well with additionally alleges “code of silence” inside the Chicago Police Department allowed Watts to run an extortion ring with impunity.
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