Cook County prosecutors threw out the convictions of four more men, Wednesday, in connection with a growing scandal in the Chicago Police Department.
All four alleged they were framed on drug charges by Sgt. Ronald Watts and officers under his command at the Ida B. Wells housing project.
“I was outside playing with my kids when they had just come around, three or four cars deep, gathered everybody up and took them to the police station,” Jermaine Coleman told NBC 5 after court. “We were thinking we got trespassing (charges), but when we got to the holding cell, we had heroin cases.”
Dozens of individuals have seen their cases tossed, including 10 others this week, amid mounting evidence that Watts and his officers routinely framed suspects on drug charges.
“If you ain’t got what he wants, he took you to jail,” said another man, Germain Sims.
With Wednesday’s exonerations, a total of 63 individuals have had cases related to Watts dismissed. Many more are under review, and at least a dozen officers who were once under the sergeant’s command remain on the force, confined to desk duty.
Defense lawyer Joel Flaxman hailed the decision by the state’s attorney’s office to toss the convictions, and their continued scrutiny of Watts-related cases.
“Every time we’re here we say it’s time for the city to do the same thing and finally act on these investigations,” Flaxman said. “We understand there still is an investigation going on but we don’t know the details of that. It’s been going on for a long time and it’s time for the city to take some action here.”