Chicago

More Than a Dozen Men Ask Court to Formally Declare Their Innocence

All of the men said they were framed by disgraced former Chicago Police sergeant Ronald Watts and the tactical team he once commanded on Chicago’s South Side

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Fifteen men whose convictions were thrown out last month in a single hearing, are now asking for formal certificates of innocence. 

All of the men said they were framed by disgraced former Chicago Police sergeant Ronald Watts and the tactical team he once commanded on Chicago’s South Side. Certificates for the former suspects are the first step in recovering damages from the state for wrongful convictions. 

Defense attorney Joshua Tepfer noted that even the state agreed the charges against the men, 18 convictions in all, should be dismissed. 

“In these cases, we concluded, unfortunately, that police were not being truthful,” Mark Rotert, the head of the State’s Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit said. “We couldn’t have confidence in the integrity of their reports and their testimony.” 

Shortly after the convictions were overturned, seven members of Watts’ tactical team were placed on desk duty. 

“Petitioners are innocent because there were no criminal offenses,” Tepfer wrote. “Each were framed by Chicago police officers we now know routinely framed citizens of public housing, in furtherance of their own criminal actions.” 

At least 20 individuals, with 26 convictions among them, have been exonerated by the courts, after evidence was presented of wrongful behavior by Watts and his team. A hearing on the newest motion is set for next Tuesday.

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