Jackie Wilson lost 36 years of his life due to brutal & corrupt cops says new federal suit

CHICAGO – A four-decade saga of police rampage, torture, cover-up and perjury reached a new chapter this morning when one of Chicago’s most prominent police torture survivors, Jackie Wilson, sued former Mayor Richard M. Daley and a host of top cops and prosecutors.

A copy of today’s federal lawsuit can be found here.

Time-line of Wilson’s fight for justice

1966-69 – After washing out of college, Jon Burge serves two tours of duty in Vietnam where he worked as an interrogator of Vietnamese prisoners and learned torture techniques that would later become infamous in Chicago.

1972-91 – Burge “either directly participated in or implicitly approved the torture” of at least 118 people in police custody, according the The Guardian.

February 9, 1982 – Chicago Police Officers William Fahey and Richard O’Brien robbed and murdered.
“[M]ayor Jane Bryne and her police superintendent, Richard Brzeczek, mandated what would become the most massive manhunt in the City’s history. Brzeczek designated lieutenant Jon Burge, who headed up the Violent Crimes Unit at Area 2, to direct the search for the killers…. Under Burge’s command, incensed CPD officers kicked in doors, ransacked homes, beat up numerous residents, and, once suspects were in custody, tortured those Black men they suspected of either being involved in or having knowledge of the crime….  Upward of two hundred complaints were filed with the CPD by abused persons…” Flint Taylor, The Torture Machine: Racism and Police Violence in Chicago

February 14, 1982 – Jackie Wilson and his brother Andrew tortured by Area Two detectives John Yucatis, Thomas McKenna and Patrick O’Hara, at the direction and with the participation of Jon Burge. Wilson’s torture occurred with the knowledge and participation of former Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney, Lawrence Hyman, and Cook County Court Reporter, Michael Hartnett.

Charged with murder and robbery at age 22, Jackie Wilson would not be freed until he was 58 years old.

February 1982 – Dr. Jack Raba, director of medical services at Cook Jail, observes obvious signs of torture on the body of Andrew Wilson, and writes an explicit letter about it to then-Police Superintendent Richard Brzeczek, who in turn shared the letter with then-Cook County State’s Attorney and future Mayor Richard M. Daley and his highest ranking Assistants, Richard Devine and William Kunkle

1983 – Jackie Wilson found guilty as police and prosecutors withhold exculpatory evidence, including evidence relating to an eyewitness to the murders, and perjured themselves.

1987 – Wilson’s first wrongful conviction reversed by the Illinois Appellate Court and remanded for a new trial

~1988 – Assistant State’s Attorney Nicholas Trutenko and jailhouse informant William David Coleman fabricated a false story that falsely implicates Jackie Wilson in the crimes against Fahey and O’Brien.

1989 – Wilson’s retrial, during which prosecutors introduce Wilson’s false tortured statement, the Trutenko/Coleman fabricated evidence, and false testimony coerced out of DeWayne Hardin. William Kunkle helps Trutenko and Coleman suppress the fact that Coleman’s story was false, manufactured, and purchased by County and City monies. Wilson found guilty of the murder of O’officer O’Brien but acquitted of the murder of Officer Fahey..

May 2015 – The Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission (TIRC) returned Wilson’s case to the Cook County Criminal Court for a hearing on the issue of whether Plaintiff’s confession was tortured from him.

January 2017 to June 2018 –After eighteen months of litigation and a four-day evidentiary hearing, Circuit Court Judge William H. Hooks issued a 119-page opinion that found that Wilson’s tortured confession should be suppressed and ordered a new trial. In doing so, Judge Hooks opined:

“There is more than enough to surmise what happened in the investigation and interrogation of Jackie Wilson was not good – instead, very bad and ugly.  The conduct of those involved in this most serious of investigations, which involved attempting to discover and ethically prosecute the murderer or murderers of two Chicago police officers required more.  Much more was required of the Chicago Police Department, the Office of the Cook County State’s Attorney, our courts, the private and public defense bar, and indeed, our federal government…The abhorrence of basic rights of suspects by Mr. Burge and his underlings has been costly to the taxpayers, the wrongfully convicted, and worst of all, the dozens of victims and their families who have suffered untold grief – in many cases, a 30-plus year horror story.”

June 2018 – After 36 years in maximum security jails and prisons, Wilson is finally freed on a recognizance bond.

September 2020 – The Cook County Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) subjected Wilson to yet another retrial, with its primary evidence being the false, manufactured and fabricated 1989 testimony of William Coleman. During the third trial, Andrew Horvat joined and participated in Trutenko’s continuing effort to withhold critical and material exculpatory evidence that would have unraveled Trutenko’s continuing illicit relationship with jailhouse informant Coleman. Horvat and Trutenko not only withheld this exculpatory and impeachment evidence from Wilson and the OSP, but he also actively concealed this evidence from the OSP and urged OSP to not inquire into it.

After a two-week bench trial before Judge Hooks, the OSP dismissed all pending charges against Plaintiff with prejudice.  In doing so, OSP informed the Court that Trutenko suppressed the fact that he had a continuing relationship with Coleman and committed perjury on the witness stand.

October 1, 2020 – The special prosecutor in Wilson’s retrial abruptly dropped all charges against him when it was revealed that a then-CCSAO prosecutor, Trutenko, concealed a witness named William Coleman. Coleman is a reputed international con man who repeatedly perjured himself decades ago to secure Wilson’s conviction.

December 18, 2020 – Jackie Wilson’s petition for a Certificate of Innocence is granted by trial judge Judge William H. Hooks, whereby the State of Illinois officially recognizes him to be an innocent man. Hooks commented,

“[T]he Cook County justice system itself has been tortured. Jackie Wilson has also been physically tortured by a brutal electrical box torture ritual and has already wrongfully served a sentence that has taken roughly 70 percent of his life.  Jackie Wilson will never be able to recoup the value of his life lost to the living hell he experienced at the hands of his government.  While Jackie Wilson extraordinarily deserves and has earned this Certificate of Innocence, others deserve to pay for that they have so unjustly caused both directly and indirectly.”

June 10, 2021 – Cook County Criminal Court Judge Alfredo Maldonado ordered that a special prosecutor investigate alleged criminal conduct by Trutenko, Horvat, and Coleman, citing the “sordid history of the investigation and criminal prosecutions in this case serve as a shameful chapter in Chicago’s history….”

“Because of the actions of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office before, during and after Trutenko’s testimony, a sufficient basis exists to investigate whether any persons, including but not limited to current or former members of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, engaged in criminal conduct….”

“The record in this case absolutely calls into question the reasons behind the CCSAO’s decisions and conduct regarding Trutenko. At best, the CCSAO acted in a misguided and inept manner as to Trutenko and the ethical crisis created by his misconduct and trial testimony. However, at worst, the actions of the CCSAO, as to Trutenko, could have been motivated by unethical and, perhaps, illegal reasons to cover up misconduct. Accordingly, sufficient reason exists to warrant an independent investigation into Trutenko’s misconduct and into the actions of the CCSAO, as an institution, related to the substance of Trutenko’s trial testimony and his alleged perjury.”

This is the first-ever appointment of a Special Prosecutor to investigate and prosecute members of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office for misconduct in a wrongful conviction case. This is also the first referral for an investigation of Cook County State’s Attorneys for criminal misconduct in their duties as prosecutors since the federal ‘Operation Greylord’ prosecution in the 1980s.

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Working with an anonymous whistle-blower and assisted by legendary investigative journalist John Conroy and community activists, in the 1980s Attorney Flint Taylor of the People’s Law Office broke the police code of silence that covered up the tortures by Jon Burge and his fellow policemen. Amnesty International and other human rights organizations have now concluded that over 125 Black men were tortured by Burge and his crew.

As documented in Taylor’s ground-breaking book, The Torture Machine: Racism and Police Violence in Chicago, the scandal eventually tarnished the highest echelons of Chicago’s political establishment, including Mayors Jane Byrne and Richard M. Daley. Outcry over the scandal led to the nation’s first-ever Reparations Ordinance for police torture survivors.

In today’s suit, Mr. Wilson is represented by Taylor and Elliot Slosar of Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law. This litigation team, which won Jackie Wilson’s freedom, brings together Loevy & Loevy, one of the nation’s largest civil rights law firms  best known for winning more multi-million-dollar jury verdicts than any other civil rights law firm in the country, and the People’s Law Office, a smaller firm that has been fighting and winning landmark police violence cases locally and nationally for more than 50 years.

A copy of today’s suit, Jackie Wilson v. Administrator of the Estate of Former Chicago Police Department Commander Jon Burge, Mayor and former State’s Attorney Richard M. Daley, former Chicago Police Department detective Thomas McKenna, Administrator of the Estate of former Police Department Detective Patrick O’Hara, Administrator of the Estate of former Chicago Police Department Detective John Yucaitis, former Cook County ASA Lawrence Hyman, former Cook County ASA Nicholas Trutenko, former Cook County Court Reporter Michael Hartnett, Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney T. Andrew Horvat, former Assistant State’s Attorney and former Special City of Chicago Corporation Counsel William Kunkle, former jailhouse informant William David Coleman, aka Alfred Clarkson Administrator of the Estate of former Chicago Police Department Superintendent Leroy Martin, former Chicago Police Department Superintendent Terry Hillard, former OPS Director Gayle Shines, former aide to the Chicago Police Department Superintendent Thomas Needham, City of Chicago and Cook County, Illinois, Case No. 1:21-cv-03487, can be found here.


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