CHICAGO (CN) – A man says he spent 21 years in prison after Chicago Police detectives and an assistant state’s attorney tortured a co-suspect into a false confession of a quintuple murder. Marvin Reeves, who was freed in July 2009, says Police Commander Jon Burge, Assistant State’s Attorney Mark Lukanich and others tortured Ronald Kitchen “for hours.” Burge was fired in 1993 and is scheduled for trial in May on federal charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.
Reeves says the torture squad also fabricated evidence and based the case on the testimony of a felon.
In his federal complaint, Reeves says Burge pushed his detectives to “solve” crimes faster, through torture and other depraved tactics, to “enhance their personal standing” in the department.
In August 1988, Reeves says he and Ronald Kitchen were falsely accused of killing two women and three children, who died in a fire in their home. Reeves says the husband, brother-in-law and lover of one of the murdered women all failed polygraph tests in the investigation.
Reeves that a felon named Willie Williams called the police from jail, demanded favors, and claimed that Reeves and Kitchen told him that they had killed the victims to settle a drug debt. He says the police ordered Williams to call Reeves and Kitchen while they listened in, but neither one “ever said a word on these calls implicating themselves in the murders.” He adds that the police destroyed the “vast majority of those exculpatory call transcripts and recordings”.
Reeves says that in a “brutal and sadistic” torture session, detectives “beat Kitchen with a blackjack, a telephone, and a telephone book; kicked and punched him repeatedly over several hours,” and finally “succeeded in torturing a false confession from Mr. Kitchen, who falsely implicated himself and Mr. Reeves in the murders.”
Officers Burge, Michael Kill, Thomas Byron, John Smith, and others participated in the torture, according to the 35-page complaint.
“Defendant Lukanich participated in these torture sessions as one of Mr. Kitchen’s interrogators,” according to the complaint.
Reeves was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole. He was retried in 1997 and was found guilty again on the basis of Williams’ testimony, he says.
Reeves was granted a new trial after the Illinois attorney general found that Williams had been put in a work-release program and was paid $800 by the government to move his family at the request of the police, according to the complaint.
Reeves was cleared of the murders and freed from prison in July 2009.
Reeves says the torture and abuse used to “solve” crimes were practiced by the Chicago Police under Burge throughout the 1980s, and that there are 90 known victims, 14 of whom ended up on Death Row. Most of the torture victims were African-American men.
Reeves was a 29-year-old father when he was convicted.
The complaint lists 44 alleged victims of police torture, with the dates of abuse and the officers accused of it.
Named as defendants are the City of Chicago, Cook County, former Commander Jon Burge, former Sgt. John Byrne, Dets. Michael Kill, John Smith, Thomas Byron, Tom Ptak, William Foley, Lee Almanza, William Kelly, Tony Maslanka, John Paladino and Daniel McInerney, and assistant state’s attorneys Mark Lukanich and John Eannace.
Reeves demands damages for violations of his constitutional rights, failure to intervene, conspiracy, malicious prosecution and emotional distress.
Reeves’ lead counsel is Arthur Loevy of Loevy & Loevy.