Judge Rips Chicago's 'Pathetic' Police Work
CHICAGO (CN) - Two men falsely charged with attempted murder spent 17 months in Cook County Jail awaiting trial though no evidence connected them to the crime, and the trial judge who acquitted them criticized the police's "pathetic" investigation, the men claim in court.
Vernell and Antwyone Green sued Chicago and its police Dets. James Scannell and Lorenzo Sandoval, on Aug. 15 in Federal Court.
"Vernell and Antwyone Green were wrongfully arrested, charged and prosecuted for attempted murder and related charges. There was no evidence whatsoever suggesting their guilty of any crime. The victim of the shooting did not identify them at the scene even though he had known them from grade school," the complaint begins. "Nonetheless, plaintiffs were arrested, and incarcerated for 17 months while they awaited trial. After the bench trial, the trial judge declared the investigation 'pathetic' and acquitted plaintiffs of all charges."
The Greens were accused of shooting Jryce [sic] Starling on Jan. 11, 2013, on the 8500 block of South Hoyne in Chicago. Both men claim they were nowhere near it when the shooting occurred.
A week later, Scannell and Sandoval visited Starling in the hospital.
"At the time they confronted Mr. Starling, defendants Scannell and Sandoval had only two photographs in their possession. They had one photograph of Vernell and one photograph of Antwyone," the complaint states.
"No photo array was compiled. Instead, at that time and place, before they asked Mr. Starling if he knew who shot him, and before Mr. Starling identified Vernell or Antwyone as the individuals who shot him, defendants Scannell and Sandoval presented the photographs of Vernell and Antwyone to Mr. Starling. Defendants did not present pictures of any other individuals to Mr. Starling.
"After defendants Scannell and Sandoval presented the photographs of Vernell and Antwyone to Mr. Starling, defendants Scannell and Sandoval claimed Mr. Starling identified Vernell and Antwyone as the individuals that had shot him. Defendants Scannell and Sandoval prepared reports consistent with those claimed identifications."
Both men were arrested and interrogated for 72 hours. They were then placed in a lineup, they say, but an eyewitness did not identify either of them as the shooter.
Nevertheless, they were prosecuted, without any eyewitness or forensic evidence against them, and spent 17 months in jail awaiting trial.
In finding the men not guilty, the trial judge said: "The investigation in this case, pretty much, can only be described as pathetic. Given the nature of this violent act, you would think that the police department would have some motivation to spend time and effort to investigate this matter. Apparently they chose not to," according to the complaint.
The Greens say that "the months they spent in Cook County Jail were frightening and arduous, particularly because of the vicious acts they witnessed and the danger they were in from other inmates."
They seek damages for false arrest, violation of due process, conspiracy, failure to intervene, malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, and emotional distress.
They are represented by Kathleen Zellner, of Downers Grove.