Man wrongly convicted in fatal arson at 14 sues Chicago police

CHICAGO (WLS) -- He got his freedom back. Now, Adam Gray wants justice.

Gray was wrongly convicted of arson as a teen, and spent more than half his life in prison. He filed a lawsuit Thursday accusing the Chicago police detectives who forced him to confess of conspiring with others to get him convicted of a crime he did not commit.

"I didn't understand the amount of hatred toward me from the cops, why they were lying. Everybody was lying," said Gray.

Gray was arrested when he was 14 and charged with starting a fire that killed two people. His 54-page federal civil lawsuit names seven former Chicago police detectives - five of whom are now dead - a former Chicago youth police officer, a former city fire marshal, and a former Assistant Cook County state's attorney who is now a sitting judge.

"There's no way these police detectives should have been able to coerce a false confession to a crime that didn't occur from a 14-year-old," said Gray's attorney John Loevy at a Thursday afternoon press conference.

The complaint also names the city of Chicago, and accuses the defendants of manipulating witnesses and fabricating evidence in the fire, which at the time was ruled an arson.

At some point, attorneys said investigators got an empty milk jug, and then made up a story about Gray filling it with gasoline to start the blaze. Tests revealed that was untrue.

Gray's nightmare began in March of 1993. Authorities accused the eighth grader of starting a fire at the home of a a girl who lived in the 4100-block of South Albany Avenue after he became angry with her for rejecting him.

While she and her parents escaped the flames, two upstairs neighbors died in the fire.

Gray was taken to the CPD's 51st and Wentworth police station. After seven hours of repeated pleas of innocence and being denied requests to see his mom and brother, Gray said he falsely confessed to the crime. He said in return for the confession police rewarded him with food.

Gray was convicted and sentenced to mandatory life in prison without parole.

Now 39, Gray was released in 2017 after several witnesses recanted their testimony and the fire science used to find him guilty was deemed faulty.

As he continues to struggle to get his life on track, Gray hopes to stop what happened to him from happening to anyone else.

"Trying to send a message down the line, if you're a dirty cop, these things are going to catch up to you," he said.
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