By Amy Fullerton
CHICAGO, IL – After the misconduct committed by former Chicago Police Sergeant Ronald Watts and a rogue band of crooked cops, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx is moving to vacate another five additional wrongful convictions in Cook County.
In total, the Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) and Foxx administration has vacated 123 different cases of 93 individuals who suffered at the expense of wrongful convictions.
During Sergeant Watts’ tenure, Watts and his cronies allegedly wrongfully arrested numerous civilians. After a pattern of misconduct conducted by Watts, trust in the initial arrests and validity of the arrests he made has declined significantly.
Watts and Officer Kallatt Mohammed pleaded guilty in 2013 in federal court after being recorded during a sting operation taking $5,000 from an FBI informant and admitted to extorting money from drug dealers. Watts was sentenced to 22 months in federal prison; Mohammed got 18 month. No other officers were charged.
According to media reports in the Chicago Sun Times, Watts and his crew of officers have also been accused of shaking down residents of the former Ida B. Wells housing project and pinning bogus drug charges on them if they wouldn’t participate in the extortions.
Foxx and her office hope to turn this around by vacating the convictions of those who were affected by Watts’ pattern of misconduct.
With the induction of Foxx in December 2016 as the Cook County State’s Attorney, Foxx and the CCSAO’s Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) have continually investigated and vacated convictions they deemed to be unjust during Watts’ tenure.
During her first year as Cook County State’s Attorney in 2017, Foxx was able to vacate the convictions of 18 individuals. Now in 2021, the number of individuals who have been helped by Foxx has grown to 90.
As of Nov. 4, Foxx and her office have added five convictions to the docket to be vacated. The continual push by Foxx’s office to clear unjust convictions made during Watts’ tenure shows just how important it is to Foxx and her office to give a better life to the people who were wrongfully convicted.
“As prosecutors, we know that harm was caused, some of it was done by this office, and it is now our duty to make sure that those harms are addressed and never repeated. Today is a step towards righting the wrongs of the past and giving these individuals their names back,” said Foxx.
On Nov. 4, prosecutors officially presented the vacate orders to Cook County Judge Erica Reddik in Chicago, who approved the orders and cleared the convictions.