11 years after Chicago Police Officer Clifton Lewis' murder, 3 men charged could soon walk free

Family grieves as legal battles with suspects Edgardo Colon, Tyrone Clay and Alexander Villa continue

Michelle Gallardo Image
Friday, December 30, 2022
3 men charged in CPD officer's 2011 murder could soon walk free
Chicago Police Officer Clifton Lewis was killed while working a second job as a security officer at an Austin neighborhood convenience store in 2011.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- It's been 11 years, and still the Chicago Police Department remembers, like they do every year, the anniversary of Officer Clifton Lewis' murder on December 29. He was killed while off-duty, working a second job as a security officer at an Austin neighborhood convenience store.

"This is always a rough day for me," 15th District Cmdr. Andre Parham said. "Cliff was more than just another police officer. Cliff was a friend."

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Edgardo Colon, Tyrone Clay and Alexander Villa were all arrested and charged in connection with the murder. But did they do it? Eleven years later, all three cases are still ongoing.

Confessions obtained from the first two-both of which were recanted-were thrown out leading to Colon's conviction being overturned in 2020 and Clay not even standing trial yet. Meanwhile, attorneys for Villa, who has been convicted but not yet sentenced, are asking for a new trial.

"We now have evidence that shows that they didn't do it," said Jennifer Blagg, Villa's defense attorney.

According to Blagg, that evidence includes a 2012 FBI map that allegedly shows where each of the accused were on the day and time of the murder based on their cell phone activity.

"Police believed that at the time of this crime, the first person who implicated everyone was about three miles away at the exact minute of the crime," Blagg said. "The other thing that the map shows that's telling is that these men were never together the entire day. Not one time."

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In separate statements, a spokesperson for CPD referred all questions to the Cook County State's Attorney's office, which in turn would not comment on the cases, citing pending litigation.

But in a September court filing, prosecutors said: "The [defense] motion in its tone and tenor is implying the People hid evidence from the defense. This is not true." Prosecutors added that the FBI's original cell tower mapping report is wrong, saying, "There is a well-documented mistake in the charting times."

But even as the legal battles continue, there is still a family grieving. Lewis' fiancée Latrice Tucker remembers the man who took a second job to help pay for a wedding that didn't get to happen.

"I told him we had to have this huge ceremony because I want to be queen for a day and you need to be king of a day," she recalled.

Even as all three cases proceed separately, Villa's attorney said she expects to eventually join with the others to request the charges against all of them be dismissed.