CHICAGO (STMW) — A Hazel Crest man is claiming he was forced in to signing a false confession for a 1992 double murder, of which he was later exonerated after spending 20 years in prison.
Deon Patrick, 42, is claiming eight Chicago Police officers were involved in manufacturing a confession that helped pin him to the shooting death of a man and woman in the Uptown neighborhood, according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court Monday. He also names unidentified employees of both the city and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office as defendants.
On Nov. 16, 1992, Uptown resident Jeffrey Lassiter and Sharon Haugabook were shot to death in Lassiter’s apartment, the suit said.
At first, officers could not locate the man who they had learned could have been present at the scene of the crime, the suit claims.
One of the defendant officers who was going on vacation ten days after the murders left a note with the rest of his team that said, “This case better be cleared by the time I get back from leave,” the suit claims.
About a week later, on Dec. 2, officers arrested Patrick at his apartment, the suit said. Patrick alleges he suffered tortuous treatment, and was handcuffed to a ring on the wall of an interrogation room for 28 hours. He claimed he was also deprived of food, drink and sleep, and was told that if he didn’t confess, he would be sent to death row and never see his family again.
The suit said Patrick was denied the right to see his attorney during the 30 hours he was held, during which he repeatedly denied any involvement with the murders.
Officers had already forced false confessions from two other people, the suit alleges, and they showed Patrick their paperwork. Eventually, Patrick claims he was “broken” and agreed to falsely implicate himself.
Officers drew up a confession on their own, asked Patrick a few personal questions and had him sign it, the suit claims.
Patrick alleges the officers eventually got false confessions from six other people and connected them to the murder to simply clear the case. Officers never obtained any physical evidence linking him to the murder scene, the suit alleged.
Spokeswomen for both the city and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office said they had not yet reviewed the lawsuit and declined to comment Monday afternoon.
Patrick’s conviction was tossed out in January, the Sun-Times previously reported.
“Based upon the collective results of our investigation and our continuing review of this case, it is our assessment that we cannot meet our legal burden and we do not believe that it would be in the interest of justice to proceed,” Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said in a statement to the Sun-Times when Patrick’s charges were dropped.
Patrick’s exoneration and lawsuit aren’t the first for this case.
Daniel Taylor, also convicted for the crime, was exonerated in June 2013, the Sun-Times previously reported. Records showed that Taylor, who was 17 at the time, was in police custody for disorderly conduct on the night of the homicides, according to the Sun-Times. At the time of the 1995 trial, prosecutors claimed police records were inaccurate.
He, too, filed a lawsuit in Februray and claimed he was beaten and was forced into confessing to the double murder, the Sun-Times reported.
Patrick’s eight-count suit claims violations of his constitutional rights, violation of due process by fabricating evidence that was used at trial, violation of due process by withholding exculpatory evidence, malicious prosecution and conspiracy, among other things.
He is seeking an unspecified amount in damages, as well as to be compensated for legal fees.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2014. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)