CHICAGO (CN) – A man who spent 21 years in prison for a quintuple murder that he did not commit claims he is one of at least 30 black suspects who were tortured by former Police Commander Jon Burge and his detectives between 1982 and 1988. In a federal complaint filed days after Burge was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice, Ronald Kitchen claims he was handcuffed to a wall and beaten into a false confession by detectives while the city’s mayor and former state’s attorney, Richard Daley, turned a blind eye.
Kitchen claims his 1988 arrest came after detectives were tipped off by an inmate, Willie Williams, who had read about the murders of the two women and three children in the newspaper. Williams’ claim that Kitchen confessed to him about the murders was “completely incredible,” and “Williams’ motive was to curry favor, obtain reward money, and gain leniency in his own case,” Kitchen says.
Kitchen claims the detectives under Burge ignored circumstantial evidence that the women and children may have been murdered by someone close to them.
Kitchen says he was arrested, “purportedly for auto theft,” and then driven to Burge’s division, where he was handcuffed to a metal loop on the wall and beaten in the face and groin by Burge and others after refusing to confess to the murders.
After Kitchen asked to speak with an attorney, he says Detective Thomas Byron responded by “taking an unattached telephone receiver, hitting [Kitchen] on the side of the head with the receiver, and then handing it to [him] and leaving the room.” Kitchen was also beaten with a telephone book and a blackjack, according to the lawsuit.
Kitchen says he falsely confessed to the murders after enduring more than 16 hours of torture by the detectives, without any food or sleep. He was eventually convicted based on the coerced confession and Williams’ fabricated testimony, according to his complaint.
“The earliest known torture in this pattern occurred on or about May 29, 1973,” when Burge, who was a detective at the time, “tortured African American suspect Anthony Holmes, using an electric shock box, suffocation with a bag, beating and racial epithets,” according to Kitchen’s complaint.
Kitchen claims that Mayor Daley and others knew that the torture was going on, and even ignored complaints of abuse. After a jailhouse doctor reported that one inmate had “unmistakable signs” that he had been abused while in police custody, Daley informed him that he “should not get involved,” the complaint states.
Kitchen spent 21 years in prison — including 13 years on death row — before being exonerated in 2009, he says.
Burge was fired in 1993 and has since denied any wrongdoing. He was convicted of perjury, for lying about his areas’ torture tactics, and obstruction of justice on June 28, according to Fox News.
He has since been released on bond and plans to spend time at his home in Apollo Beach, Fla., until his Nov. 5 sentencing, Fox reported.
Along with Burge, Daley and Byron, defendants include former Chicago Police Department Superintendents Terry Hillard and Leroy Martin; former Director of the Chicago Police Office of Professional Standards Gayle Shines, former Police Sgt. John Byrne; former Detectives Michael Kill and John Smith; former assistant state’s attorneys Mark Lukanich and John Eannace; former aide to the superintendent Thomas Needham; the city of Chicago; Cook County and the Office of the Cook County State’s Attorney.
Kitchen demands damages for wrongful conviction, false arrest and imprisonment, torture and physical abuse, coercive interrogation, conspiracy, malicious prosecution and emotional distress.
Lead counsel is G. Flint Taylor of the People’s Law Office.