City Council approves $50 million settlement to four Chicago men wrongfully imprisoned for total of 73 years

Arrested as teenagers and brutally interrogated by Chicago Police officers, LaShawn Ezell, Charles Johnson, Larod Styles and Troshawn McCoy—known as the “Marquette Park Four”—spent much of their lives in prison for crimes they did not commit.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, June 12, 2024

CHICAGO – City Council approved a $50 million settlement today to LaShawn Ezell, Charles Johnson, Larod Styles and Troshawn McCoy, ending their nearly three-decade quest for justice. This settlement resolves four separate federal civil rights lawsuits brought by the exonerees alleging that the Chicago Police used brutal interrogation tactics to force the then-teenagers into signing false confessions that led to their wrongful convictions. The four men spent collectively 73 years locked up for a crime they did not commit.

LaShawn Ezell, Charles Johnson, Larod Styles and Troshawn McCoy were charged in 1995 for the murders of Khalid Ibrahim and Yousef Ali, owners of a used car lot at 7006 S. Western Ave in Chicago, IL. The four were brutally interrogated by Chicago Police officers, who coerced Ezell, Styles and McCoy into signing false confessions and, in the case of Johnson, tricked him into signing a confession statement even though he continued to assert his innocence.

All four men were teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19 at the time of their wrongful arrests and brutal interrogations. No physical or forensic evidence ever tied them to the crime. Recent studies have found that children under 18 are between 2 to 3 times more likely to falsely confess than adults.

“Charles, Larod, Lashawn, and Troshawn are among the scores of kids who the Chicago Police Department has targeted for false arrest and coercive interrogations over the years, leading to Chicago’s reputation as the False Confession Capital of the country,” says Alexa Van Brunt, Director of the Illinois office of the MacArthur Justice Center and counsel for Charles Johnson. “In fact, three of the officers involved in this case—James Cassidy, Kenneth Boudreau, and Frank Valadez—framed four other teenagers (the “Englewood Four”), including my client Terrill Swift, just nine months before the teens in this case were arrested.  Yet these officers have never been held to account for stealing so many young lives.”

The convictions were overturned in 2017 after fingerprints on a marketing sticker and a car stolen from the used car lot were traced to a convicted felon who lived in the neighborhood where the stolen car was recovered. Illinois courts have awarded all four men Certificates of Innocence, a legal acknowledgement of their wrongful convictions that allows them to expunge their record.

After the settlement approval, LaShawn Ezell, Charles Johnson, Larod Styles and Troshawn McCoy made the following joint statement: “We are grateful that the City of Chicago has chosen to resolve our case and allow us to move on with our lives. No amount of money can ever return the years we lost due to Chicago Police misconduct that caused our collective 73 years of wrongful imprisonment. The City of Chicago must take steps to protect our teenagers from police abuses like those we endured.”

“We are glad that this 29-year injustice has come to a close and these men can move on with their lives”, said attorney Jon Loevy who represents Ezell and Johnson. “The City of Chicago should continue to take responsibility to bring justice to victims of police misconduct and prevent wrongful convictions.”

“No compensation can give back to these men what was taken from them, but the City’s willingness to settle this matter restores some measure of faith in the system and the belief that justice can be achieved through perseverance and unwavering commitment,” said Michael Oppenheimer, the lead attorney representing Mr. McCoy.

Terence Campbell, Larod Styles’ attorney, stated, “Larod was wrongfully imprisoned from age 16 to 37, and there is nothing that can repair the damage or replace the decades stolen from him, but this settlement represents some small measure of recompense to Larod and his family for which he is thankful.”

LaShawn Ezell and Charles Johnson are represented by attorneys Jon Loevy and Locke Bowman of the national civil rights law firm Loevy + Loevy. Loevy + Loevy is one of the nation’s largest civil rights law firms, and over the past decade has won more multi-million dollar jury verdicts than any other civil rights law firm in the country.

Charles Johnson is represented by Alexa Van Brunt and Noor Tarabishy of the MacArthur Justice Center, a national civil rights litigation non-profit which challenges injustice in the criminal legal system

Larod Styles is represented by Terry Campbell of Cotsirilos, Tighe, Streicker, Poulos & Campbell, Ltd.

Troshawn McCoy is represented by Michael Oppenheimer and Jon Neuleib of The Oppenheimer Firm.

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