By: Maudlyne Ihejirika, Chicago Sun-Times: January 16th, 2016
The case of a South Side man framed by crooked Chicago Police officers, wrongfully imprisoned for a decade and finally released this week when charges were dropped, is an indictment of the entire Chicago Police Department, the man’s civil rights attorneys charged on Friday.
“This case is of course, an exoneration, which is always important, and always important to learn from, but this case is bigger than that in many, many ways,” Joshua Tepfer of the University of Chicago’s Exoneration Project, who represented Ben Baker, said at a news conference.
“This case is about the Chicago Police Department’s code of silence. It’s about ensuring people who were victimized by a corrupt group of police officers come forward with their story so they can get belated justice too,” he said.
Baker, 43, was arrested in the Ida B. Wells public housing development on March 23, 2005, after officers said he was caught in possession of narcotics with intent to deliver. Baker maintained throughout his arrest, trial and incarceration that he’d been framed by a cadre of corrupt Wentworth District tactical police officers who worked under Ronald Watts.
Baker was freed only after the Exoneration Project took up his case and found evidence of corruption of Watts and his team that had gone on for years in that district.
“This case illustrates what we’ve heard so much about lately, which is a lack of accountability. That this could have operated in plain sight, and for the period of years that it did, with these police officers basically acting like officers in the movie ‘Training Day,’ treating this community as if they could just be robbed and stolen from with impunity,” said Jon Loevy of Loevy & Loevy.
Baker, a father of five with grandchildren he has never seen, stood with his attorneys but was mostly quiet.
“I’m thankful. You know, it’s been a long time coming, but I guess slow justice beats no justice,” he said.