Illinois State Police Must Pay $40 Million

     CHICAGO (CN) – Five men convicted, but later cleared, of a 1991 rape and murder have reached a $40 million settlement in a civil lawsuit with the Illinois State Police.
     The men were teenagers when they were arrested in connection to the death of Cateresa Matthews, a 14-year-old from Dixmoor in suburban Chicago.
     Robert Taylor, James Harden and Jonathan Barr were freed in 2011 after 19 years in prison.
     Shainne Sharp and Robert Veal were released after 10 years in prison after DNA evidence cleared them.
     According to the plaintiffs’ filings, at least one of the three who confessed was beaten by officers and all those who confessed were coerced and illegally taken advantage of by the officers who were under pressure to solve the case.
     The settlement is only with the state police. The case continues against the Village of Dixmoor, which was another defendant in the 2012 lawsuit.
     This isn’t the first time Illinois police have been accused of forcing confessions through physical punishment.
     In January 2011, former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge was sentenced to 4½ years in prison for torturing suspects into confessing for crimes that many did not commit. Burge was found guilty of leading what was known as the “Midnight Crew,” which used electric shock, smothering and other forms of torture to force confessions from suspects.

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