Cook County jurors on Tuesday awarded $1 million to a man who was wrongfully held in jail for more than a year.
John Collins, a 42-year-old Chicago barber, was arrested in 2006 and spent 385 days in jail due to false charges of aggravated battery to a police office, officials said.
After a three-day trial, a jury found the city of Chicago and Chicago police Officer Michael Garza guilty of malicious prosecution.
“I felt like a right in the pool of wrong,” Collins said of his time in jail. “I didn’t want to swim in that pool no more, but I didn’t want to drown either. So I kept fighting.”
When officers pulled Collins over in 2006, he’d just left his salon.
One officer accused him of kicking and spitting on them, but a jury acquitted Collins and he was released from Cook County in 2007.
“All I know is that I ended up a victim,” he said.
Collins said the trauma and distress is still with him.
“I was just devastated,” he said. “I was just devastated.”
Collins missed the birth of his now 7-year-old son Elwood while in jail, a moment he said he can never get back.
Since his release, Collins has worked continuously in his Dolton salon, and noted the verdict brings him a step closer to having his life back.
“I’m thankful that someone’s seen justice,” he said.
A spokesman for the city's Law Department said they are "disappointed" in the verdict in the case and said they plan to "explore all available options including an appeal."