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U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois

In this matter, a man sued the City of Chicago and several police officers related to the investigation for over a decade of wrongful imprisonment based upon allegedly coerced evidence. The City eventually was dropped after a damages payment and the case continued against the lead detective. The defendant detective denied any wrongdoing in the case.

In ________, the plaintiff, then 13 years old, was charged with the murder of Eric M., who was shot while walking down Belmont Avenue in Chicago with Larry T. The plaintiff was tried that year and convicted. He then received a new trial and was again convicted in ________. In ________, one of the prosecution’s witnesses reversed their earlier testimony, claiming that another youth had committed the murder. The plaintiff was released from jail in ________, following this alleged new evidence. He further received a certificate of innocence from the presiding judge of Cook County’s Criminal Division.

The plaintiff then sued several retired Chicago police officers in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, alleging that they coerced the eyewitness into identifying him as the shooter. Named defendants included the City of Chicago, its police department, and Officers Jerome B., Mark S., Raymond S., F. M., Lawrence R. and Robert W. The plaintiff sought compensatory and punitive damages for nearly two decades of wrongful imprisonment. Actions were filed for Violation of Due Process under 42 U.S.C. § ________, Failure to Intervene under (42 U.S.C. § ________), Conspiracy to Deprive Constitutional Rights in violation of 42 U.S.C. § ________, and violation of state laws regarding Malicious Prosecution, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, and Civil Conspiracy.

The city and police department were sought under state law claims of Respondeat Superior, arguing their indemnification as employer of the officers. The defendant city of Chicago was dropped from the suit prior to trial, as were all police officers excluding retired Chicago police detective Jerome B. The city was dropped after agreeing to pay damages awarded against the remaining defendant officer. Detective Jerome B. was the officer responsible for investigating the death of Eric M.

The plaintiff asserted at trial that Detective Jerome B. coerced supposed eyewitnesses to implicate him, and further conducted a lineup in which at least two of the potential witnesses were first shown a picture of the plaintiff. The detective was also accused of ignoring a tape recorded confession of another man, Jose Carlos T., allegedly admitting to the shooting. The plaintiff brought expert testimony from Gregg McCrary, a former FBI agent who specialized in criminal profiling and threat analysis. McCrary testified that the defendant’s investigation was highly problematic because it narrowly focused on the plaintiff as the only possible shooter, ignoring evidence (including forensic evidence) that demonstrated his innocence.

The defendant argued that the plaintiff was guilty of the murder of Eric M., and that the detective conducted a thorough investigation and that the eyewitness identifications of supposed eyewitnesses used were not coerced. The defendant further argued that the tape recorded confession of the actual shooter, which was provided to police by the father of the shooter’s accomplice, was a fraud. They brought Arlo West, an audio-forensic expert, who testified that the taped confession was a fake.After over two weeks of trial, the jury deliberated for less than a day before returning an award of $25 million to the plaintiff for his wrongful incarceration.

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