Walker was finally released after spending more than half of his life locked up for crimes he didn’t commit
This morning Chicago police torture survivor Keith Walker sued the City of Chicago and a host of top cops who were part of disgraced Commander Jon Burge’s infamous “Midnight Crew” for torturing him and framing him for a murder he did not commit.
Following days of abusive interrogation, during which Burge and his Midnight Crew “tortured him, threatened to kill him, [and] called him racial slurs,” 23-year-old Walker relented and falsely confessed to the murder of a white suburban teenager named Shawn Wicks. Wicks was killed while visiting Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhood. According to today’s suit, police not only tortured Walker, but fabricated false statements from the victim and witnesses, and suppressed evidence to secure Walker’s arrest, prosecution and conviction. Not a single piece of legitimate evidence ever connected Walker to the crime.
The murder of a white suburban teenager in the City of Chicago was a “heater case” that needed to be solved at all costs. “Like countless others, Mr. Walker’s odyssey through a corrupt criminal justice system was instigated by a racist Chicago Police Department that all too often treats Black and Brown men and women as nothing more than collateral damage in pursuit of its own agenda.”
Besides Burge, defendants in today’s suit include several cops who racked up infamous records as “repeater beaters,” who routinely tortured, threatened, and humiliated civilians. Some of the most notorious police Chicago history are defendants in today’s suit:
Daniel McWeeney – McWeeney was named in four misconduct lawsuits that cost the City of Chicago $14,850,000 according to The Chicago Reporter’s “Settling for Misconduct” project.
John Halloran – Halloran was named in three misconduct lawsuits that cost the City of Chicago $7,050,000 according to The Chicago Reporter’s “Settling for Misconduct” project.
John Byrne – Byrne was named in two misconduct lawsuits that cost the City of Chicago $11,525,000 according to The Chicago Reporter’s “Settling for Misconduct” project.
A 2006 Chicago Reader article noted that Bryne “ha[d] known Burge since childhood and admitted to being his ‘right-hand man’ at Area Two. Accused of cattle prod torture and numerous attacks aimed at genitals. Left CPD after he got his law degree but subsequently disbarred for taking money from clients – including police officers and firefighters – for whom he did no work, an ethical lapse he attributes to clinical depression. He collects a police pension and works as a private investigator.”
At the time of his arrest at age 23, Mr. Walker was living with his pregnant girlfriend and her infant daughter. During his nearly three decades of incarceration, he not only missed the childhoods of their son and daughter, but also the funerals of his father, stepmother, an aunt and uncle, and several cousins. His grandmother, with whom he was very close, passed away shortly after he was finally released from prison.
“Keith Walker’s torture, wrongful prosecution and conviction, and false imprisonment occurred because command personnel in the Chicago Police Department, successive Superintendents of Police, and several Mayors of the City of Chicago, as well as Cook County and its State’s Attorneys’ Office, for decades concealed ongoing torture and physical abuse committed by Chicago Police under the command of Jon Burge,” said Sean Starr of Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law, one of Walker’s attorneys. “The criminal legal system in Chicago worked hard to block and undercut all efforts to expose, discipline, and prosecute the offending officers, and it at all times refused to intervene to stop the continuing egregious and criminally unconstitutional misconduct committed by Chicago police officers.”
Joining Mr. Walker at a 12 noon press conference today outside of the north side of the Dirksen Federal Building (southeast corner of Adams & Dearborn Streets) will be members of his family, representatives of the Chicago Torture Justice Center, and his attorneys from Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law. Besides Mr. Starr, Mr. Walker is also represented by Arthur Loevy, Jon Loevy, Steve Art and Bella Aguilar.
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.
A copy of the suit, Administrator of the Estate of former Chicago Police Department Commander Jon Burge, former CPD Detective Daniel McWeeney, former CPD Detective John Halloran, former CPD Detective John Halloran, former CPD Detective Anthony Maslanka, former CPD Detective William Moser, former CPD Detective Louis Ceasar, former CPD Detective Jack McCann, former CPD Detective Thomas Brankin, former CPD Detective Robert Lane, former CPD Detective Nick Crescenzo, former CPD Detective Craig Cegielski, former CPD Detective John Smith, former CPD Detective David Golubiak, former CPD Detective J. Griffin, Administrator of the Estate of former CPD Sergeant John Byrne, former CPD Sergeant Doris Byrd, former CPD Superintendent Leroy Martin, and unknown employees of the City of Chicago, Nicholas Ford, Michelle McDowell Simmons, the City of Chicago, and the County of Cook, case no. 1:21-cv-04231, can be found here.