A damning report unsealed Wednesday reveals allegations of collusion among Chicago police and prosecutors to win murder convictions against four Black teens, known as the Englewood Four, the Chicago Tribune reports.
The men–Michael Saunders, Vincent Thames, Harold Richardson and Terrill Swift–are using the scathing 7-page document drafted in March 2012 as a key piece of evidence in separate lawsuits against police. Arrested as teens, the men claim cops and Cook County prosecutors conspired against them to obtain wrongful convictions in the 1994 rape and murder of 30-year-old Nina Glover.
They spent 15 years in prison before DNA tests in 2011 matched Glover’s body to dead convicted murderer Johnny “Maniac” Douglas. A judge threw out their convictions and later granted the men certificates of innocence.
A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the document should be unsealed given recent developments in a pending lawsuit from one of the victims, the Tribune report says. It details an interview by FBI special agent Jeffrey Moore of former Assistant State’s Attorney Terence Johnson, one of two prosecutors who worked with detectives in approving charges against the four Black men.
Johnson alleged that police fed forced statements to the Englewood Four. Prosecutors in the felony review unit approved charges only to maintain cushy relationships with officers and other misconduct.
“The strategy was to use the subjects against each other,” the unsealed report said. “They [Englewood Four] were told the detectives needed a witness, and if they were forthcoming and credible, they would be the witness.”
A prosecutor named in the report told the Chicago Sun-Times on Wednesday that any allegations of misconduct are simply “false.” Lawyers for police and prosecutors said unsealing the report was an attempt to use media to push a wrongful conviction agenda.
The Cook County Board also approved a $5.6 million settlement Wednesday with Swift, who also tentatively settled with the city for an as-yet undisclosed amount, according to the Tribune. Attorneys for the city in the pending federal cases of the three other men filed a motion asking a judge to schedule a settlement conference.
We hope the men continue to fight in a case that is symbolic of problems in the criminal justice system, not just in Chicago, but across the nation.