Two days after NBC5 Investigates raised questions about the seeming contradictions in a case involving a man who was shot twice by Harvey Police, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office announced Friday they are dropping all charges against him.
That man, 27 year old Paul Manning, was shot by Harvey Police in December of 2012, after a brief confrontation where they alleged he pulled a gun. But the case was rife with questions, including whether the gun ever really existed. Manning sued, his attorneys contending he was an unarmed victim.
Last month, the City of Harvey settled with Manning, and although that settlement was sealed, NBC5 discovered an unredacted document in the court file revealing that the City had agreed to pay him $1 million. But despite the fact that their own police witnesses had settled with Manning, the Cook County State’s Attorney pressed ahead with charges of armed violence, aggravated assault on a police officer, and possession of cannabis, which could have landed him in prison for 15 years.
“This is an innocent man…and this case needs to go away,” defense attorney Sam Adam Jr. said Wednesday. “This is absurd.”
On Friday morning at a quickly-scheduled hearing, prosecutors announced they were dropping all charges.
"As with all of our cases, prosecutors continually review facts and acquire information throughout the pre-trial process,” spokesman Sally Daly said in a statement. “In this particular case, based upon post-charging developments and information that has been brought to light, we believe it is in the best interests of justice to dismiss charges in this case."
In court documents, Manning contended he was merely walking down a public street when a Harvey Police officer accosted him, and shot him twice as he attempted to flee. During the melee, one of the officers also shot a bystander’s puppy. (That bystander also sued the Harvey Police and reached a settlement last month).
The Illinois State Police were enlisted to help process the crime scene. But even though a State Police trooper said she inventoried and photographed three guns, two from the police officers and one from Manning, no photos could be produced.
“It has always been the position of the Defendant that at no time did he possess a handgun, carry one, or have a handgun on December 30, 2012,” Adam wrote in a motion filed Wednesday in Circuit Court. “Therefore, any handgun claimed to have been his was either planted at the scene or later obtained and placed into evidence at a different time.”
The court motion said that when she was questioned about the lack of photos, the trooper said the memory card in her camera had become corrupted. But when pressed, Adam told the court that the trooper took the 5th amendment, refusing to answer any further questions.
“Think about that, the last time a police officer for the Illinois State Police took the fifth about why the photographs are quote-unquote, destroyed,” he said. “This is absurd that we are going forward like this.”
After court Friday, Adam said he was happy that prosecutors had made the decision to drop the case, where one side settled after being accused of shooting an unarmed man, while other authorities were proceeding against that same man in court.
“I am ecstatic that my client can get on with his life.”