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Alleged Police Torture Victim Sues Burge, City

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Eric Caine

Eric Caine was set free from prison on March 17, 2011, after 25 years in prison. Prosecutors dropped the case against him, due to a questionable confession that he claims was the result of police torture. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – A Chicago man freed from prison last March after 25 years has filed a federal lawsuit against the city and the man he says tortured him into a false confession: former Police Cmdr. Jon Burge.

Eric Caine is now 46 years old. Nine months ago, a judge gave him his freedom – about the same time that, across the country, the man who allegedly tortured a confession out of Caine, former Police Commander Jon Burge, began serving time in federal prison.

Now, Caine has filed a federal suit against Burge and the city of Chicago.

“Not only is it a day that I start fighting back, it’s the day that I (am) redeemed, so to speak,” Caine said. “This is a long time coming.”

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Caine spent 25 years in prison for a double murder he says he did not commit.

His lawsuit asks for unspecified damages.

Justice, he says, would be no more rogue cops or rogue politicians.

A spokesman for the city of Chicago law department says, “The city hasn’t been served with the lawsuit yet, so we are not in a position to comment at this time.”

Released from prison earlier this year, Caine had been behind bars since 1986, when he was charged with the murders of a South Chicago couple. He was convicted in 1989 and sentenced to life in prison, but has long maintained that he was tortured into confessing.

“When I first was informed, or told, that I had been implicated in this murder, I was shocked beyond belief,” Caine said last year in a phone interview from prison.

Cook County Judge William Hooks ruled in January that Caine was entitled to a post-conviction hearing based on his allegations of torture.

Former Judge Stuart Nudelman, who acted as special prosecutor in Caine’s case, said earlier this year that prosecutors decided they didn’t have enough evidence to convict Caine in a retrial.

Russell Ainsworth, the lead attorney at The Exoneration Project at University of Chicago Law School, said last year that “(Caine’s) claims of innocence are the most powerful we’ve ever had in our clinic.”

Caine’s co-defendant, Aaron Patterson, was also convicted in the case and sentenced to death. But in 2003, then-Gov. George Ryan pardoned Patterson.

When Patterson was beaten by police, he said Caine was also involved in the murders.

Both Caine and Patterson have always said they were tortured into signing confessions given to them by detectives under the command of Jon Burge. Caine said he was beaten so badly, his eardrum ruptured.

In 2003, Ryan pardoned four Death Row inmates, including Patterson. All were allegedly tortured by Burge and his men, but because Caine was sentenced to life, he wasn’t pardoned.

While incarcerated, Caine’s mother, father and grandmother all died.

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