CHICAGO (CBS) — The Chicago City Council approved a $31 million settlement with the “Englewood Four,” who spent years in prison for rape and murder before DNA evidence pointed to a different suspect.

But there were some vocal dissenters, including Ald. Nicholas Sposato, who voted against the settlement because he believes evidence highlighted by the Police Union indicates that the men may have been involved in the crime.

inmates Aldermen Slam Englewood Four $31M Wrongful Conviction Settlement

Michael Saunders (left) and Harold Richardson were released from behind bars in November 2011, after serving 17 years for a rape and murder they did not commit. Two other men who were also cleared in the so-called “Englewood Four” case had already completed their sentences when DNA evidence tied another man to the crime. (Credit: CBS)

Ald. Anthony Napolitano, who was once a police officer, voted against it, as well. “There’s just an overwhelming amount of evidence against the individuals that are in this settlement, and I feel that we’re opening a gateway for settlements like this in the future.”

Ald. Leslie Hairston, however, noted that DNA evidence cleared the men, adding that the police have a history of abusing African American men.

terrill swift 1207 Aldermen Slam Englewood Four $31M Wrongful Conviction Settlement

Terrill Swift speaks to CBS News correspondent Byron Pitts about his wrongful conviction for the 1994 rape and murder of a prostitute. Swift, 17 at the time he was interrogated by police, says he was coerced into confessing with a promise he’d be able to go home if he admitted he did it. (Credit: CBS)

“We’re not talking about ‘opening a gateway for settlements,’ the gateway for settlements was opened when they started shooting black men in the back!”

The City’s Law Department said a jury would probably award the victims much more than $31 million.

Six years ago, a Cook County judge threw out the convictions of Terrill Swift, Vincent Thames, Michael Saunders, and Harold Richardson in the 1994 rape and murder of 30-year-old Nina Glover. Prosecutors formally dropped charges against them two months later.

All four were teenagers when they were convicted, but claimed police coerced them into false confessions.

Swift and Thames had served 15 years in prison and were released two years before they were cleared. Saunders and Richardson spent 17 years behind bars before they went free.

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