The family of George Anderson, an alleged torture victim of officers connected to disgraced Chicago police commander Jon Burge, stormed out of the Leighton Courthouse on Thursday after a Cook County judge denied Anderson's appeal for a new trial.
"It's somewhat of a shock … and surprise … given the extensive evidence that was presented at this hearing," said David B. Owens, an attorney with the Exoneration Project at the University of Chicago that has represented Anderson for more than five years.
Anderson said police beat him into giving a false confession more than 27 years ago, leading to his murder conviction in 1991. He has been in jail ever since.
Nearly three decades later, Judge William Hooks said Thursday he had good reason to question Anderson’s claims.
"George Anderson has attempted to deliberately tailor his testimony," Hooks wrote in a 50-plus page opinion. "It was a failed attempt to paint himself as a victim of Chicago police torture.”
Hooks went on to compare Anderson to what he called a ghost rider, or someone who boards a CTA bus after an accident and claims injury.
"Anderson has falsely claimed to have ridden on the Burge torture bus and he knows it,” Hooks said.
Burge, who died in 2018, was at the center of dozens of cases of police brutality and torture resulting in several multi-million dollar settlements with the city of Chicago.
Owens called the judge's ruling "completely and factually inaccurate and wrong."
"The allegation that George Anderson is someone who is coming on the bandwagon is totally false," Owens said.
Anderson claims to have been starved and beaten into confessing to the murder of two children. In court on Thursday the judge said Anderson has no helpful medical evidence to support his claims of torture in any credible way.
"This was a very, very shocking decision," said Bertha Escamilla, a supporter of Anderson, "to hear that George Anderson did not have enough evidence to show he was beat up."
Prosecutors told NBC 5 off-camera that the judge's decision proves that justice was done on this case.
Anderson’s attorney said he plans to appeal.