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Chicago City Council to consider historic $50 million settlement for false confessions allegedly forced by police

Jake Sheridan, Chicago Tribune on

Published in News & Features

CHICAGO — Chicago aldermen are set to consider the city’s largest police misconduct settlement ever: a $50 million deal for four men imprisoned after detectives allegedly forced their false confessions as teens.

The hefty sum would go to four men who were originally convicted in a 1995 double murder. The men were arrested and tried as teens and spent half their lives in prison, but were exonerated in 2017 and certified as innocent after new fingerprinting technology did not connect them to the scene.

The council Finance Committee unanimously approved the settlement recommended by city attorneys Monday, setting it up for a final vote by the full City Council Wednesday.

The four men — Lashawn Ezell, Charles Johnson, Troshawn McCoy and Larod Styles — were accused of robbing and murdering Khaled Ibrahim and Yousef Ali. They were coerced to give false confessions by Chicago Police Department detectives, their federal lawsuits allege.

Ibrahim and Ali were fatally shot on a December night by a pair of attackers at their used car dealership, Elegant Auto. The attackers then stole two cars and sped away from the lot at 75th Street and Western Avenue.

Ezell, Johnson, McCoy and Styles allege police interrogated them for hours, away from guardians and handcuffed, and tricked them to confess only after they were “terrified, confused and utterly worn down.”


Johnson told police during one interrogation that he and his co-defendants planned to steal cars from the lot and strip them for parts. Witnesses later identified him as the shooter at the trial. He and Styles were sentenced to life without parole. McCoy was given a 55-year sentence, while Ezell was sentenced to 20 years in prison and released after 10 years.

Together, they spent 73 years in prison, city attorney Jessica Felker said Monday. But when authorities again examined fingerprints from one of the stolen cars with new technology a decade after the convictions, they were unable to match the four men with the evidence, Felker added.

Instead, the fingerprint evidence was matched to a convicted felon whose mother lived near the spot where the stolen car was abandoned. The Cook County state’s attorney’s office has since interviewed the man, but declined to press charges against him.

Johnson’s lawyers argued he had signed a confession only after he was told it was a routine document that would lead to his release. In addition, the details in the confessions from the men, which formed the bulk of the prosecution’s case, did not match up, they said.


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