City approves $50M settlement involving Chicago police framing of 'Marquette Park Four'

4 then-teens sent to prison for 1995 double murder they did not commit

Craig Wall Image
Thursday, June 13, 2024
City approves $50M settlement in 'Marquette Park Four' case
The city of Chicago approved a $50M settlement involving the CPD framing of the so-called "Marquette Park Four" during a Council meeting Wednesday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The city of Chicago settled a major wrongful conviction case involving the police framing of the so-called "Marquette Park Four" on Wednesday.

Without any discussion, aldermen approved the $50 million settlement.

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The then-teenagers were all sent to prison for a 1995 double murder they did not commit.

The city of Chicago is poised to settle a major wrongful conviction case involving a police framing case.

It is going to cost the city $50 million to make things right for the Marquette Park Four: Charles Johnson, LaRod Styles, Troshawn McCoy and Lashawn Ezel, who were exonerated in 2017.

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson said in a statement Wednesday, "Well, the reform is something that is ongoing. Constitutional policing is something that we have to have. You know, as far as what happened when I was in high school, that's the problem. You know, things were unchecked. Many Black men have been falsely accused and, you know, spent, you know, their lives in prison for a crime they did not commit. You know, unfortunately, this is the experience of many Black men who, whether they get accused of a crime or they are reduced to some sort of caricature. So, there is a lot of work that obviously has to be done to reform our police department. But, keep in mind the cases that we are settling, the direct result of what previous administrations ignored."

The four were convicted of a 1995 double murder and robbery of two men at a South Side car sales business.

They were all teens at the time of their arrest, and confessed to a detective, who had worked under infamous police Cmdr. Jon Burge.

The city will be responsible for $21 million, and insurance policies will cover the remaining $29 million.

On Monday, the Finance Committee approved the Law Department's proposed settlement.

"The plaintiff spent a total of 73 years in prison. This settlement equates to $685,000 per year of custody. Typically at a trial, plaintiffs ask for $1 to $2 million per year of custody from the jury," said Jessica Felker, deputy corporation counsel of federal civil rights litigation.

That would equate to a settlement between $73 and $146 million.

"We need to be really thinking about what kind of standard that we're setting for these things, and this settlement seems to exceed the standards that have been previously set," 34th Ward Ald. Bill Conway said.

This is just the latest in a long list of wrongful conviction lawsuits against the city.

A study of federal settlements from 2000-2023 shows the city paid out nearly $538 million in settlements and jury awards for wrongful convictions and nearly $138 million more for private outside legal fees.

Civil rights attorney Andrew M. Stroth, who started the Truth Hope and Justice Initiative, said the city needs to do more to assess risk in these types of cases and settle them more quickly.

"Taxpayers should be outraged because there's been hundreds of millions of dollars wasted on litigating these cases. And there's hundreds of millions in the pipeline today," Stroth said.