A Chicago man released from prison last year after serving 20 years for a double homicide filed a federal lawsuit Monday alleging that officers beat him into confessing to the crime and suppressed evidence that proved his innocence.
In the lawsuit against the city of Chicago and several police officers, Daniel Taylor, 38, alleges that police also coerced others into implicating him in the 1992 shooting deaths of two people in their North Side apartment. Further, it alleges that after discovering Taylor could not have committed the slayings because he was in police custody on a disorderly conduct charge at the time they were committed, police "fabricated evidence" against him. That evidence included, according to the lawsuit, falsifying a police report to include an encounter between Taylor and police outside one victim's apartment the night of the slayings at a time they already knew he was in police custody.
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"Despite this evidence of Plaintiff's innocence, the Defendant Officers proceeded to frame Plaintiff for the murders rather than search for the real killer," reads the lawsuit.
The lawsuit comes months after prosecutors dismissed the charges against Taylor and a judge ordered him released from prison. Last month, prosecutors dismissed charges against his co-defendant, Deon Patrick, resulting in his release from prison after 21 years. And slightly more than a week ago, a Cook County judge issued certificates of innocence to both men.
The lawsuit is the latest chapter in a decades-long story of misconduct and physical abuse perpetrated by a group of Chicago police officers against largely black suspects for crimes they did not commit. Several have been exonerated and released from prison after serving years, and in some cases decades, in prison. The city has paid out tens of millions of dollars to settle lawsuits, and a former commander, Jon Burge, is now in federal prison after being convicted of perjury in connection with testimony he gave in a civil case involving allegations of torture.
In December, a judge ordered a man who had spent 30 years in prison for a rape charge freed from prison, saying the officers had "lied" about the way they treated him. And in January, the same month that Patrick was released from prison, the city council signed off on yet another settlement for a wrongfully convicted inmate, this one for $10.25 million to a man who spent 26 years behind bars for a murder he did not commit.
In Taylor's lawsuit, his attorneys allege that in their effort to frame Taylor, police withheld from prosecutors information that would have raised serious doubt about his guilt, including the existence of a man who had told investigators he and Taylor were in jail at the time of the crime. During the trial, prosecutors argued that the police lockup records were not accurate and that Taylor was not in custody at the time.
The lawsuit also alleges that information that would have helped clear Taylor was kept in secret "street files" that were not shared with defense attorneys or prosecutors.
Taylor was subsequently convicted of first-degree murder, armed robbery and home invasion and sentenced to life in prison.