10-Year Stint for Police Perjury, Frame Job

     CHICAGO (CN) — A man exonerated after spending 10 years in prison because police officers lied on the stand at his trial sued the city of Chicago seeking civil damages.
     Jermaine Walker was a computer science student at Fisk University on a full scholarship when he was framed by police for a drug crime he did not commit.
     Walker was driving to his sister’s house on the North Side of Chicago when police allegedly pulled him over without cause and ordered him out of the car.
     He says the officers became irate when he questioned why they stopped him.
     The officers beat him several times in the alley near where they ordered him to pull over, according to the complaint, then arrested him on false charges of possession with intent to distribute drugs within 1,000 feet of a school.
     Walker denied all the charges at trial, and argued that even if he was dealing drugs, he would never have done so in an alley with a camera pointed straight at him.
     But the officers and a state’s attorney investigator falsely testified at trial that there was no camera in the alley.
     The investigator sent to photograph the alley “deliberately chose a vantage point that would obscure the camera. Specifically, he stood to the right side of the alley, facing south, so that the telephone poles in the alley would hide the camera,” the complaint says.
     Walker was unable to afford bail, and the court denied him money to hire an independent investigator, so he was unable to rebut the police evidence in court.
     The prosecution relied heavily on this false evidence.
     “There was a camera in the alley? Ladies and gentlemen, there is absolutely no evidence of that. Witness after witness after witness took that stand and told you there is no camera. You have pictures of the alley, including close-ups that show you there is no camera,” the prosecutor told the jury.
     Walker was convicted and sentenced to 22 years in prison.
     He spent 10 years behind bars before he could prove the camera’s existence and convince a court that the arresting officers lied under oath.
     In vacated his conviction, the presiding Cook County judge called the situation “outrageous.”
     “A severe injustice was done here,” the judge said. “Everybody in the court system was relying on the information and the photographs that were sworn to as a truth, and it is very disturbing and upsetting, especially as a judge, to be involved in a system where an officer, especially an officer of the court, would come in an swear under oath to something that was not true.”
     Walker’s public defender, Ingrid Gill, called it “the most disturbing case I’ve seen in 25 years,” at a press conference held Thursday.
     “This Cook County state’s attorney investigator was a former police officer,” Gill said. “He was a former Chicago police officer. This opens up a whole other aspect of misconduct, which I find so troubling.”
     In his civil suit, Walker seeks punitive damages for unreasonable seizure, failure to intervene, conspiracy, malicious prosecution, and emotional distress.
     He is represented by Gretchen Helfrich with Loevy & Loevy in Chicago.

%d bloggers like this: