Prosecutors Agree 3 More Were Framed As CPD Scandal Grows

A growing scandal associated with a former Chicago police tactical team accused of shaking down drug dealers and framing south side residents now includes scrutiny of at least 15 active Chicago police officers. Phil Rogers has the details.

(Published Monday, Feb. 5, 2018)

In what can only be viewed as an exploding scandal, prosecutors told a Cook County judge Tuesday convictions should be set aside for three more individuals, arrested at the hands of a tainted Chicago Police tactical team headed by Sgt. Ronald Watts.

Watts and one of his officers went to prison themselves on charges of shaking down south side drug dealers. The newest cases would mean at least 23 individuals have seen their convictions overturned, including 15 who were exonerated on a single day last November.

In a virtually unprecedented move, The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office has reportedly agreed to take a fresh look at cases involving a disgraced Chicago Police sergeant and the tactical team he commanded on Chicago’s South Side. Phil Rogers reports.

(Published Monday, Feb. 27, 2017)

“This is a scandal unlike any other,” defense attorney Joshua Tepfer said outside of court. “People were being---like a factory---taking cases and pleading them out, because they knew they couldn’t beat them because you can’t beat corrupt and lying police officers.”

At least 15 officers are under investigation in connection with the case and are now assigned to desk duty.

“It’s like being trapped out there in the cold and nobody will let you in,” said Philip Thomas, who did over five years behind bars. “You guys, lawyers, judges, other police officers, are too quick to believe the word of the police---and all the time the police are lying!”

Thomas was one of nine exonerees who received official certificates of innocence Tuesday. That certification will allow them to pursue thousands of dollars in damages from the State of Illinois

A Cook County judge on Wednesday vacated the 2006 conviction and dropped all charges against a man who was convicted at the hands of a disgraced Chicago police officer and his team. Phil Rogers reports. (Published Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016)

“Equal protection under the law,” Thomas said after court. “Here today, we are being vindicated.”

Attorneys said they have over 30 similar cases waiting in the wings.

“What it means to me is that the system is finally taking seriously the claims of extremely serious police misconduct,” said attorney Joel Flaxman, who represents the latest exonerees. “I think it’s very important to have that redemption---you know that, ‘We hear you, you were correct the whole time.’”