Beaten Into Confession, Freed Chicagoan Says

     CHICAGO (CN) – Exonerated of murder after 22 years in prison, a father of 10 sued Chicago and 11 police officers, claiming they beat him into a false confession, fabricated evidence and paid a witness to falsely testify against him in court.
     Wayne Washington sued the Chicago and the 11 officers and former officers on Feb. 2 in Federal Court.
     “Plaintiff, Wayne Washington, was convicted of the murder of Marshall Morgan, Jr., a murder that he did not commit. Arrested in the prime of his life, plaintiff was sentenced to 25 years in prison, spending years after with the stigma of being a convicted murder, before he was ultimately exonerated in 2015,” the complaint begins.
     Morgan says police ignored evidence that the victim’s estranged father, Marshall Morgan, Sr., committed the murder.
     Morgan was deeply in debt, his home was in foreclosure, and he was being sued for child support at the time of the murder.
     “Unlike plaintiff, Morgan, Sr. had a motive and a modus operandi of committing similar murders. Morgan, Sr. had recently taken out a life insurance policy on his son, the victim in this case, and had a history of killing for financial gain,” Washington says in the 26-page complaint.
     He says Morgan Sr. collected nearly $50,000 on the policy he had taken out on his 20-year-old son’s life just five months before the murder.
     The father had been convicted of voluntary manslaughter in 1997 for killing a close friend over a $700 debt, according to the complaint.
     And as Washington awaited trial, he says, Morgan Sr.’s then-fiancée was murdered shortly after he took out a $100,000 life insurance policy on her. Her body was found wedged between the front and back seats of a car, the same way Morgan Jr.’s body had been found.
     A jury convicted Washington’s co-defendant Tyrone Hood, who was sentenced to 75 years in prison.
     Washington accepted a 25-year plea deal to avoid a similar fate. He served 22 years in prison before he was released on parole last year.
     Morgan Sr. was convicted in 2001 of murdering his girlfriend, Deborah Jackson, according to the complaint.
     Washington says he never met the man he was accused of killing, and that it was widely publicized in Chicago, as Morgan Jr. had been a basketball star at the Illinois Institute of Technology, so police were under heat to get a conviction.
     Chicago police held him for two days, Washington says, and “(d)uring this time, he was repeatedly interrogated, coerced and beaten by the defendant officers.”
     “Every single witness the police had coerced into false statements and confessions recanted their statements,” Washington says in the complaint.
     Police offered at least one witness “financial benefits” for his false testimony, Washington says. He says the first-named of the 11 officers, Kenneth Boudreau, has a history of coercing people to make false confessions.
     “To date, defendant Boudreau has obtained murder confessions from more than a dozen people for whom the charges were either dropped or the defendant was acquitted notwithstanding the supposed confessions,” the complaint states. “Likewise, he has obtained coerced inculpatory statements from witnesses to corroborate those false confessions.
     “For a two-year period in the early 1990s, for example, defendant Boudreau and his partner, defendant [John] Halloran helped ‘solve’ at least five murders with ‘confessions’ that ended with acquittals. All of these suspects alleged that Boudreau and/or Halloran mistreated them to obtain false confessions.”
     Boudreau worked under police Cmdr. Jon Burge, according to the Chicago Tribune, which published a long investigative piece on Boudreau in 2001. Burge was sentenced in 2011 to 4½ years in prison for perjury and obstruction of justice after in a so-called police “torture ring” that made headlines around the world.
     Washington says that the abuse was just one example of the Chicago Police Department’s “widespread policy and practice.”
     To sum it up, the complaint states: “The wrongful convictions of innocent persons involving coerced and false statements include numerous cases in which department detectives used the very same tactics that the defendants employed against plaintiff, his co-defendant and the witnesses in this case. These tactics include: (a) physical abuse; (b) psychological intimidation and manipulation; (c) fabrication of confessions; (e) concealment of exculpatory information; (f) false promises of leniency in exchange for ‘cooperation’ in the form of a statement; and (g) use of other unlawful tactics to secure the arrest, prosecution, and conviction of persons without regard to their actual guilt.”
     Washington seeks damages for conspiracy, violations of due process and other constitutional violations, failure to intervene, malicious prosecution and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
     He is represented by Steven Greenberg.

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