Illinois officials tossed out drug convictions of seven more men after scoundrel officers of the Chicago Police Department planted narcotics on them.
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx was on a mission to bring justice to the defendants who were falsely convicted as a result of the actions of Chicago Police Sgt. Ronald Watts. Foxx announced on Nov. 2 that her motions to exonerate victims who were wrongly arrested by Watts, were granted by Cook County Judge Leroy Martin Jr.
“We found a pattern of misconduct by Watts and other officers in these cases, which caused our office to lose confidence in the initial arrests and validity of these convictions,” Foxx said in a statement. “May the defendants, who we now believe were victims, find a path forward in healing and justice.”
The new overturned convictions marked 45 people exonerated in 57 Watts-related cases, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Deon Willis, who was jailed twice as a result of arrests made by Watts and his crew, told NBC Chicago that having his convictions vacated was like having a new start.
“We lived in the area where these police officers, they just they did what they wanted to do for a very long time,” said Willis. “It came down to we had to come out of our hallways, out of our apartments, peeking out the doors making sure they’re not riding up the street. It was hard. It was hard but now it’s over.”
In 2012, Watts and Officer Kallatt Mohammed were indicted on federal charges after one of the men whom they targeted turned out to be an FBI informant. In 2017, over 15 officers who worked under Watts were demoted to desk duty.
Last November, a wave of 15 men had their convictions vacated after Watts falsified reports, planned false witness testimonies and planted drugs on the victims.
Watts and Mohammed currently sit in prison for their tainted tactical unit.
Kenneth Hicks, who was one of the men who’s been recently exonerated, told the news outlet, “I never thought I’d be standing right here. Once they get you they got you.”