Lawsuits allege code of silence and come in the wake
of the first mass exoneration in Chicago history

This morning fifteen men whose convictions were overturned each filed separate lawsuits against the City of Chicago, high-ranking supervisors with the Chicago Police Department (CPD), recently imprisoned former Chicago police sergeant Ronald Watts, and members of Watts’ tactical team.

The 15 lawsuits allege that a “code of silence” throughout the CPD allowed disgraced former Police Sergeant Ronald Watts to run an extortion ring with impunity in and around the former Ida B. Wells housing project and the city’s south side. Watts and Officer Kallatt Mohammed—who is also named in many of the lawsuits—were convicted on federal charges in 2013.

Fourteen of the men had drug convictions that were overturned on November 16, 2017 in what has been called the first mass exoneration in Cook County history. The fifteenth, Anthony McDaniels, had his gun conviction thrown out last month and was released after almost a decade incarcerated.

After November’s mass dismissal, 15 officers tied to Watts were placed on desk duty by the CPD. The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office has informed the Department that it will no longer call 10 officers tied to Watts to testify “due to concerns about their credibility and alleged involvement in the misconduct of Sergeant Watts.”

Many of the 15 men and their families will be present at the news conference, as will attorneys for the men from Loevy & Loevy. Links to the lawsuits are below and will also be available at the news conference.

Allen Jackson v. Chicago – 1.18-cv-05121
Andre McNairy v. Chicago – 1.18-cv-05127
Anthony McDaniels v. Chicago – 1.18-cv-05126
Christopher Scott v. Chicago – 1.18-cv-05128
Frank Saunders v. Chicago – 1.18-cv-05125
Henry Thomas v. Chicago – 1.18-cv-05131
Jamell Sanders v. Chicago – 1.18-cv-05122
Lee Rainey v. Chicago – 1.18-cv-05129
Leonard Gipson v. Chicago – 1.18-cv-05120
Lionel White, Jr. v. Chicago – 1.18-cv-05133
Marcus Gibbs v. Chicago – 1.18-cv-05119
Phillip Thomas v. Chicago – 1.18-cv-05132
Shaun James v. Chicago – 1.18-cv-05123
Taurus Smith v. Chicago – 1.18-cv-05130
Thomas Jefferson v. Chicago – 1.18-cv-05124

Loevy & Loevy is one of the nation’s largest civil rights law firms and has won more multi-million-dollar jury verdicts than any other civil rights law firm in the country.

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