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updated: 5/19/2014 8:08 PM

Wrongfully convicted man sues Chicago officials

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Associated Press

A man who spent 21 years in prison for a double killing he long maintained he didn't commit filed a federal lawsuit Monday, alleging Chicago police and Cook County prosecutors created a false confession and forced him to sign it.

Deon Patrick of Chicago was convicted in 1995 for the slayings of Sharon Haugabook and Jeffrey Lassiter in 1992 in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood. He was released in January, after prosecutors dismissed charges against him.

Patrick's attorneys argued the Chicago Police Department's own records show Patrick was locked up on a disorderly conduct charge at the time the two were killed in their apartment. During the trial, prosecutors contended police lockup records were not accurate.

"Until the city and county hold police officers and prosecutors responsible for fabricating and hiding evidence, this problem will not go away," Patrick said.

His lawsuit names the city of Chicago, seven police detectives and officers, and two prosecutors for their role in his arrest and the investigation leading up to his conviction. The lawsuit claims the defendants fabricated evidence and withheld evidence from him and a co-defendant.

Daniel Taylor, one of Patrick's co-defendants, was convicted of the same crime and spent 20 years behind bars before the charges were dismissed last year.

One of Patrick's attorneys, Nicole Auerbach, said instead of admitting the confessions were false, police and prosecutors "chose to double down rather than risk their reputations."

"Deon Patrick lost a significant part of his life because of that choice," the lawyer said.

A phone call to the office of Chicago's corporation counsel wasn't immediately returned.

Cook County state's attorney spokesman Steve Campbell said the office is not commenting on the lawsuit.

The lawsuit is the latest chapter in a decades-long story of misconduct and physical abuse perpetrated by a group of Chicago police officers, largely against 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.

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