Impaired Man’s Confession Called Coerced

     MILWAUKEE (CN) – Milwaukee police officers took advantage of a cognitively disabled teenager to coerce a bogus murder confession, he claims in court.
     Eddie Gill says he was an 18-year-old ninth grader when someone began shooting into a crowd of 30 to 50 people outside the Futuristic Lounge at about 2:17 a.m. on Feb. 3, 2013, the night the bar was set to close permanently.
     With one man injured and another dead, Gill allegedly went to the Milwaukee police station voluntarily on Feb. 12 to give his account, according to the complaint filed Friday in circuit court.
     Because of alleged inconsistencies in his story, however, police arrested him for “obstructing.” Gill says it was several days into this lockup that he confessed to the shooting.
     “In sum, Eddie Gill endured 40 hours of isolation and four interrogations by five separate detectives, while confined in either a small jail cell or in a small interrogation room, before Milwaukee homicide detectives finally coerced his confession,” the complaint states.
     There were problems with the interrogation from the start, Gill says, noting that he was told that he could not have a polygraph he requested without a lawyer, unless he waived his right to one
     Gill allegedly interpreted this “to mean that either he could have a polygraph without a lawyer or he would not get a polygraph at all,” the complaint states.
     Gill’s cognitive difficulties were allegedly apparent immediately to the detective who administered the polygraph test on Feb. 13.
     All the while maintaining his innocence, Gill says he could not read or write, was directed to state he understood his Miranda rights when he did not, and showed signs of struggling to maintain focus and comprehend the detective’s instructions.
     When detectives interrogated Gill again that afternoon in his cell, they read him his Miranda rights but failed to ensure he understood them, according to the complaint.
     In yet another interrogation early the next morning, Gill says a detective told him he was not allowed a phone call and that multiple eyewitnesses had identified him as the shooter, when in fact none of them had.
     Gill says he asked for a lawyer but was “coerced” into waiving his right to counsel.
     “During the interrogation Eddie Gill explained to Det. [James] Hensley that he had comprehension problems,” the complaint states. “Throughout the interrogation, Det. Hensley employed various techniques including social isolation, confrontation, theme development, and minimization to obtain Eddie Gill’s confession.
     “When left alone, Eddie Gill sobbed and repeatedly professed his innocence to himself,” the complaint continues. “Based on the statements made by Det. Graham, and his belief, based on those statements, that he would be let free, Eddie Gill signed a confession to the shooting.”
     Gill says he was in jail awaiting trial more than a year later when two detectives filed reports on Feb. 20, 2014, of eyewitness interviews that indicated Gill was not the shooter.
     When Judge Stephanie Rothstein asked the detectives in a hearing the next day whether they were blaming their “own negligence … for writing such a terrible report,” the detectives blamed “human error,” according to the complaint.
     Gill says the court dismissed the case against him on March 13, and he “was released after spending 385 days in custody.”
     In addition to finding that Gill had not made any statements to police voluntarily, Rothstein noted “serious concerns about the quality of work coming out of the homicide division,” according to the complaint.
     Gill’s complaint names as defendants the city of Milwaukee, Chief of Police Edward Flynn and the six detectives who investigated the incident. The Milwaukee Police Department declined to comment on pending litigation.
     Gill seeks punitive damages for negligence and violation of his due-process rights and other federal civil rights. Gill is represented by Drew De Vinney of Martin Law Office in Oak Creek.