More Chicago Police Torture Claims Head to Court

Police brutality lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm continue to report on the decades-long saga over former Police Commander Jon Burge and the men tortured under his authority. Now, twelve more men with credible claims of police torture are getting their day in court.

We have written extensively about this case, which centers on Jon Burge and his subordinates – nicknamed the ‘Midnight Crew’ – who routinely tortured false confessions out of innocent men beginning in the 1970s. The Illinois Torture Inquiry Relief Commission is currently investigating more than 100 prisoners, who, if their claims are found credible, will be able to get a chance to defend themselves in court.

17 men are now subject to review, assigned to a trial judge in mid-August 2013 in hopes that they will be freed. The process of investigating these men’s claims has been so drawn-out (more than 30 years for some), because of lack of funding and unnecessary disputes over who would represent the city of Chicago in evidentiary hearings.

The torture commission already has about five cases of confirmed, evidence-based claims of torture. In May 2013, about ten additional investigations were launched. In additional efforts, the MacArthur Justice Center and the People’s Law Office are attempting to consolidate all claims of torture by the Midnight Crew into a class-action lawsuit, ideally holding evidentiary hearings for each case. Several Chicago officials, including former Governor James Thompson, former Chicago Police Superintendant Richard Brzeczek, and several former U.S. Attorneys, are voicing their support for these measures.

The Sun-Times recently wrote an expose on one 15-year-old who was among the five the torture commission with credible evidence of torture. The boy, Anthony Jakes, was punched, beaten, kicked, slapped, and held in interrogation for 16 hours in 1992. He was a freshman at Tilden High School, and was interrogated by Jon Burge’s detectives, who told him the Latin Kings were going to jump him if he refused to confess to a crime which he did not commit.

Jakes is now 36, and has served 21 of a 40-year sentence for a murder and armed robbery, despite there being no eyewitnesses or physical evidence to the crime. Like Jakes, a large amount of the more than 100 incarcerated men are in prison based on nothing – literally nothing – besides a false, coerce confession.

Another case of alleged false confession was by Scott Mitchell, a man who has been in psychiatric treatment since he was three. He was diagnosed as an emotionally disturbed paranoid schizophrenic, and, after 33 hours of interrogation by the Midnight Crew, now suffers from dementia from repeated head trauma. In 1996, Mitchell was interrogated at Area 2, repeatedly hit over the head with a book and punched in the stomach and chest. Detectives threatened to lock up his mother if he did not confess, which would have resulted in her losing her other children as well.

Another case being investigated involved Jerry Mahaffey, who falsely confessed to a rape and murder of a North Side woman and beating murder of her husband. One night, five detectives entered Mahaffey’s apartment, threw him against the wall and put a gun to his head. The detectives then threw him on his daughter’s bed, kicking him in the groin and ribs. They threatened to put his wife in prison and his children in an orphanage, then put a plastic bag over his head so he could not breathe. A neighbor testified, saying it sounded less like a fight and more like Mahaffey being brutally beaten.

He was ultimately sentenced to death; however, the sentence was reduced to life without parole in 2003. Burge supervised the five detectives in charge of Mahaffey’s case in the Area 2 Violent Crimes Unit. At present, Burge is serving a four-and-a-half prison term for lying under oath about the torture.

Police brutality lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm have decades of experience advocating on behalf of those seriously injured by rogue police officers such as the Midnight Crew. If you or a loved one was illegally or maliciously tasered, beaten, arrested, or otherwise injured through police misconduct, you have important legal rights, and may be entitled to significant compensation for your emotional distress and medical bills.

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