A Cook County judge on Tuesday threw out 13 more convictions tied to corrupt ex-Chicago Police Sgt. Ronald Watts, bringing the total number of overturned cases connected to Watts and his team to 95 and the number of exonerees to 75.
State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, who is seeking a second term in office, sat in Judge LeRoy Martin Jr.’s courtroom during the brief hearing as a prosecutor presented a petition for each exoneration.
Foxx spoke to reporters afterward.
“When people do not believe that they can trust law enforcement, when they see the actions like a Sgt. Watts and his crew, they will tend to deal with their problems within their community without our assistance,” Foxx said. “So it’s important, just as rigorously that we fight crime in the present, that we right the wrongs of the past.”
Foxx, who faces three challengers in next month’s Democratic primary, is running largely on her criminal justice reform efforts.
Watts and Kallatt Mohammed, a cop he supervised, were arrested in 2012 for stealing what they thought was drug cash from an FBI informant. Both pleaded guilty and served brief prison sentences.
Their arrests followed long-running allegations that Watts and his team were framing people and taxing drug dealers at Ida B. Wells Homes, a South Side housing project demolished a decade ago.
All but one of the 95 vacated convictions were felony drug cases. The other stemmed from a gun arrest.
The first exoneree, Ben Baker, had two convictions thrown out in 2016.
Tuesday’s exonerees include Demetris Adams, Chauncy Ali, Christopher Farris, David Mayberry, Antony Mays, Gregory Molette, Terrence Moye, Jajuan Nile, Hasaan Potts, Calvin Robinson and Alhummza Stokes. Another exoneree, Stefon Harrison, had two convictions thrown out.
The men declined to speak with reporters.
Chip Mitchell reports out of WBEZ’s West Side studio about policing. Follow him at @ChipMitchell1.