8 More Wrongfully Convicted People Sue Disgraced Former Police Sgt. Ronald Watts, His Team, & the City

82 convictions overturned in last 3 years as Members of Watts’ Team Remain with CPD

and Taxpayers Continue to Pay Their Salaries

CHICAGO – Eight more men framed by disgraced former Chicago police sergeant Ronald Watts and members of Watts’ tactical team sued the current and former cops and the City of Chicago late this afternoon. Each of the wrongfully-convicted people had drug convictions overturned in February 2019 and have since been certified as innocent by the courts.

The lawsuits brought by the Civil Rights firm Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law allege that a “code of silence” throughout the CPD allowed Watts to run an extortion ring with impunity in and around the former Ida B. Wells housing project on the city’s south side. Watts and Officer Kallatt Mohammed—who is also named in many of the lawsuits—were convicted on federal charges and sentenced to prison in 2013.

As of today, 63 people who were framed by the Watts crew have had their convictions overturned. Nearly all of them have filed lawsuits against the City of Chicago.

The Cook County State’s Attorney will no longer call 10 officers tied to Watts to testify in court “due to concerns about their credibility and alleged involvement in the misconduct of Sergeant Watts.” Separate Illinois courts have called the Watts scandal “one of the most staggering cases of police corruption in the history of the City of Chicago” and chastised the City’s police disciplinary oversight body for doing “nothing to slow down the criminal” police officers.

In the immediate aftermath of the first mass exoneration in the history of Cook County a year and a half ago, now Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot commented on the Watts scandal to the Sun Times:

All of the efforts that we are trying to undertake to reform the police department and bridge the gap between police and the community will be negatively affected if officers who commit crimes . . . are able to walk away with impunity. . . . Any of the officers who remain on the job must be quickly brought to justice through criminal prosecution and or disciplinary action. . . . Everybody involved in criminal conduct who has an opportunity to stop this train wreck needs to have a moment of reflection. If not now, when?

Since Lightfoot’s comments, 45 additional people have been exonerated, yet, as of today the Chicago Police Department has taken no action since putting officers tied to Watts on desk duty in November 2017. Eighteen months later, there has been no reported change in their status. Four months ago, NBC5 reported that taxpayers had paid over $1.3 million to the 13 employed officers on desk duty, a number that continues to grow.

The eight men who filed suit today are Darron Byrd, Raynard Carter, Gregory Dobbins, Sydney Harvey, Zarice Johnson, Derrick Lewis, Coredero Payne, and Kim Wilbourn. Copies of their lawsuits can be found here.

They are represented by Jon Loevy, Arthur Loevy, Josh Tepfer, Scott Rauscher, Theresa Kleinhaus, and Sean Starr of Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law. Loevy & Loevy is one of the nation’s largest civil rights law firms and has won more multi-million-dollar jury verdicts than any other civil rights law firm in the country.

Ida B. Wells housing project
Part of the former Ida B. Wells housing project, where for many years disgraced former Chicago Police Sgt. Ronald Watts led a crew of officers extorting residents to make payoffs to them. Those residents who refused to pay were arrested with false charges. So far 63 have had their convictions overturned.

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