A man who spent 11 years behind bars before his conviction in a 2000 murder was thrown out has sued Aurora police, alleging conspiracy, infliction of emotional distress and a violation of his right to a fair trial.
Jonathan Grayson, 31, convicted under the name of Jonathon Moore, filed the lawsuit this week in federal court against the city and eight officers.
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He was released from prison a year ago Wednesday, after Kane County prosecutors agreed to drop his 2002 conviction and subsequent 75-year prison sentence for the murder of Shawn Miller, 20, of Montgomery, and attempted murder of a Chicago teen.
"Mr. Grayson's wrongful conviction rested solely on fabricated evidence and false testimony that the defendants secured through manipulation and coercion," the suit states.
Miller was gunned down in a gang-related shooting at about 5:45 a.m. Aug. 24, 2000, outside a Laundromat, and Leroy Starks, who was 17 at the time, was paralyzed.
Grayson, 19 when charged with the crime, had exhausted all his appeals. But a new witness came forward in April 2011, prompting detectives to reopen the investigation and interview more witnesses.
"In order to protect and preserve the rights of everyone involved in pending litigation, the city's standard practice is not to comment in these instances," said Aurora police spokesman Dan Ferrelli.
In the suit, Grayson's attorneys argue that police who responded to the shooting actually interviewed the two gang members in a nearby alley but never recorded their statements. Instead, the suit alleges, officers interviewing a woman who saw the shooting wrongfully tabbed Grayson as the shooter after the woman said one of the shooters "looked like Flip but was taller."
Flip was Grayson's nickname, the suit states.
"There was no physical evidence tying (Grayson) to the crime. Nor was any incriminating evidence of any kind ever discovered in (Grayson's) possession. Moreover, (the witness) clearly stated multiple times that she observed two men, and that the man who did the shooting was not (Grayson)," the suit states.
It also argues police ignored statements from people who could not identify Grayson in a photo lineup and gave Starks a deal on a drug charge in exchange for identifying Grayson as the shooter. When police questioned Grayson, they fed him details about the crime and when he repeated them back, authorities videotaped part of the statement and said Grayson incriminated himself, the suit argues.
Julie Thompson, one of Grayson's attorneys, could not be reached for comment.
Grayson seeks unspecified damages and a jury trial. No immediate court date has been set.