Illinois City to Pay $11M in Wrongful Conviction Settlements

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Three men who say they were framed by police in the 2002 murder of a young boy will each receive $3.7 million in a settlement with a northern Illinois city.

Anthony S. Ross, 39, Tyjuan T. Anderson, 38, and Lumont D. Johnson, 46, were imprisoned for more than a decade after their sentencing to 50 years for killing 8-year-old DeMarcus Hanson in Rockford.

Their convictions were overturned at a 2015 retrial and they filed separate wrongful conviction lawsuits against the city of Rockford, alleging that a former detective coerced witness statements and pushed for false testimony.

The Rockford City Council on Monday decided to settle the lawsuits, which it will fund by selling bonds because the city didn’t have insurance for that liability at the time, the Rockford Register Star reported.

Former Rockford police detective Doug Palmer testified that he had fabricated evidence and coerced testimony, so the city was compelled to settle, Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara said. Some officers named in the case were dismissed and other dismissals are pending.

“Two-thirds of the police officers weren’t even on the force when Palmer supposedly did what he says he did,” McNamara said. “I think he is a disgrace, and I don’t think he should have the word ‘officer’ and ‘Palmer’ in the same sentence.”

Hanson was asleep in his grandmother’s Rockford house before 3 a.m. April 14, 2002, when he was killed by gunfire through a window. Ross, Anderson and Johnson were all convicted of murder in two separate trials in 2002 and 2004.

The three men would have sought $60 million to $80 million had their cases gone to trial, Rockford City Legal Director Nicholas Meyer said. The city was also liable for Palmer’s actions and responsible for defending him under Illinois law. Similar cases nationwide have been settled for about $1 million for every year spent in prison in addition to attorney fees.

“The city could have been liable for between $20 million and $75 million,” Meyer said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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