Chicago City Council approves $50 million settlement to Marquette Park Four following wrongful imprisonment 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.

LaShawn Ezell, Charles Johnson, Larod Styles and Troshawn McCoy were wrongfully convicted of murder in 1995. 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.

Chicago City Council approved a $50 million settlement on June 12, 2024, ending a quest for justice that spanned nearly three decades. The settlement is the largest police misconduct settlement in Chicago’s history. 

“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 and Illinois courts 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.”

LaShawn Ezell and Charles Johnson are represented by attorneys Jon Loevy and Locke Bowman of Loevy + Loevy. Charles Johnson is represented by Alexa Van Brunt and Noor Tarabishy of the MacArthur Justice Center. 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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