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Wrongfully Convicted “Marquette Park Four” Sue City of Chicago, Chicago Police Officers

 CHICAGO – Four men, known collectively as the “Marquette Park Four,” who each spent more than 20 years in prison for crimes they did not commit, are suing the City of Chicago as well as the Chicago Police officers and the Assistant State’s Attorney responsible for their false imprisonment.

Charles Johnson, Larod Styles, LaShawn Ezell and Troshawn McCoy were all teenagers when they were arrested in 1995 for a double murder and robbery, despite no evidence tying them to the crime. The teenagers were then arrested and subjected to hours of isolation and manipulation, during which officers denied them access to counsel or adult family members.  During those hours, the officers fed them information about the crime, and repeatedly threatened the teenagers that if they did not repeat the officers’ fabricated statements incriminating them in the double murder, they would suffer terrible consequences – from never seeing their families again, to life in prison, and even to the death penalty.  At the same time, the officers promised them that if they did repeat what the officers demanded, they would be freed.

It was almost exactly a year ago today when criminal charges were dropped, due to fingerprint evidence proving the four men’s innocence.  After careful review of the evidence, State’s Attorney Kim Foxx made the decision to dismiss the case.  The Court has issued each of these four men a Certificate of Innocence, which is an affirmative finding by the Court that these four men are actually innocent of these terrible crimes.

The lawsuits filed by these four men contend that the misconduct of the individual defendants was caused by the Chicago Police Department’s failure to discipline or supervise officers with a pattern of misconduct, which condoned the type of misconduct that led to the wrongful convictions and lengthy incarceration of these young men, and many others.  

“These actions were not an aberration – it was behavior that encouraged, supported and concealed by the Chicago Police Department for years,” said Alexa Van Brunt, an attorney with the MacArthur Justice Center, an organization that has represented more than a dozen victims of wrongful convictions in civil suits in recent years. The MacArthur Justice Center is representing Charles Johnson.

“Larod Styles was just two weeks past his 16th birthday when he was arrested, isolated, and interrogated for hours by the Police until they got a false confession,” said Terry Campbell, of Corsirilos Tighe Streicker Poulos and Campbell, who represents Mr. Styles. “He did not see another day outside a prison until he was almost 37 years old.  It is difficult to imagine the devastation wreaked on Larod’s life, and the lives of his equally innocent codefendants, by this utterly wrongful conviction that stole virtually his entire youth and young adulthood.”

“Troshawn McCoy gave up 19 years of his life for a crime that he didn’t commit. He is finally on the path to seeking justice,” said Michael Oppenheimer, attorney for Mr. McCoy.

"These boys were just teenagers -- LaShawn was only 15 years old," said Jon Loevy, one of the Plaintiffs' attorneys.  "How many false confessions and wrongful convictions is it going to take before someone asks what in the world was going on in the Chicago Police Department?"

Two of the named Defendants, James Cassidy and Kenneth Boudreau, who served as homicide detectives under disgraced Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge, have amassed their own long track records of coercing and manufacturing confessions from those in their custody, including those as young as seven years old. Just six months before the Marquette Park Four case, four of the named Defendants – Detectives Cassidy, Boudreau, Valdez and Sergeant Tuider – were directly involved in obtaining the coerced confessions of the “Englewood Five,” another group of teenagers who were subjected to similar interrogations, who were wrongfully convicted based on false confessions, and who subsequently served 15 years each before being exonerated.

At a press conference on Monday announcing their lawsuits, the four men expressed a shared desire to shine a light on such misconduct and hold those responsible accountable. After having spent roughly half their lives, including their formative young adulthood, in prison, the suit also aims to help the men achieve the means to address the injuries they have sustained and begin to rebuild their lives.

Charles Johnson is represented by Locke Bowman and Alexa Van Brunt of the MacArthur Justice Center and Jon Loevy and Elizabeth Mazur of Loevy & Loevy.  

LaShawn Ezell is represented by Jon Loevy and Tara Thompson of Loevy & Loevy.

Larod Styles is represented by Terry Campbell of Corsirilos Tighe Streicker Poulos and Campbell.

Troshawn McCoy is represented by Jon Erickson and Michael Oppenheimer of Oppenheimer and Erickson.

 

 

Keywords: Chicago Police, Wrongful Conviction

Posted in Press Releases & Statements