(CHICAGO) A South Side man who spent nearly two years in jail on a murder charge is suing six members of the Chicago Police Department who, a new lawsuit says, willfully disregarded evidence that would have exonerated him almost immediately.
Tahari Wilson — who is currently held in the Cook County Jail on different charges — filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court against six members of the Chicago Police Department. Wilson claims he was wrongly held and charged in connection with a 2012 shooting that left one man dead and another injured.
About 8:35 p.m. on July 12, 2012, 27-year-old Andrew Jackson was walking in the 1200 block of West 79th Street when someone walked up and opened fire, police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office said at the time. Another man, 41, was shot in the leg and survived.
According to Wilson’s suit, he was a block away walking with members of his family when the shooting occurred and witnessed it occur himself. Wilson, now 23, was arrested — without just cause, the suit stated — a short time later in the 8100 block of South Elizabeth.
The arresting officers brought him back to the crime scene and presented him to several witnesses. None of them said Wilson was the shooter, and he was then brought to an area police station, the suit stated. While there, detectives learned that there was video surveillance of the shooting.
Though the detectives watched the video surveillance within a day of learning about it, and despite it showing two shooters — neither of whom looked like Wilson — police still held him, the suit stated.
Witnesses to the shooting were brought in to view a lineup that included Wilson, and they then identified him as the shooter, according to the suit.
However, the suit states that detectives led witnesses “to believe that the shooter was in custody and/or in the lineup.”
Investigators then gave Wilson a polygraph test and falsely claimed he “showed deception” during his examination, the suit stated.
Maintaining his innocence, Wilson went so far as to give police the name of a man he believed to be one of the shooters, but investigators never followed up, the suit stated.
“Through the fabrication of reports, the failure to follow up on reasonable avenues of investigation, and unduly suggestive identification procedures, [police] misled an assistant state’s attorney to approve murder charges against [Wilson],” the suit stated.
Wilson couldn’t post bail and remained in the Cook County Jail waiting for trial. His public defender talked with two of the witnesses who pointed to Wilson in the lineup and they told the attorney that they could not identify Wilson as the shooter, the suit stated.
After learning of the witnesses’ inability to identify Wilson, charges against him were dropped on April 11, 2014. He was in jail for 21 months, the suit stated.
Two weeks after he was released from jail, Wilson was arrested again near 82nd and Loomis and later charged with possession of a controlled substance and felony possession of a firearm, court and police records show.
He remains housed in the Cook County Jail, held on $70,000 bond, according to the Cook County Sheriff’s office website. His next court appearance is scheduled for April 28.
The four-count suit, which also names the City of Chicago as a defendant, alleges malicious prosecution, and conspiracy. It seeks more than $200,000 in damages.
A spokesman for the city’s Law Department did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday afternoon.
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