(CBS) — Ben Baker, who walked out of Robinson Correctional Center after serving nearly 11 years for a crime he says he never committed, shared his thoughts Friday about being a free man.
“It’s been a long time coming, but I guess slow justice beats no justice,” the Chicago man, joined by his attorneys, told reporters at a news conference.
Baker says he was framed by a Chicago police sergeant Ronald Watts, who planted drugs on him. Baker had refused to pay the sergeant a bribe.
“I’m thankful I’m no longer sitting behind bars for a crime I didn’t commit. Like they said and I said from the beginning, I was innocent, I didn’t do this,” Baker says.
Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez vacated his conviction. The sergeant who planted drugs on Baker pleaded guilty in 2012 to a similar shakedown in a federal case.
That’s the same year Alvarez’s office formed a Conviction Integrity Unit to start, reviewing cases involving corrupt officers.
But some wonder why it took more than three years to investigate Baker’s case and arrange his release.
“Anita Alvarez’s office has fallen short when it comes to dealing with the police officers, as far as her responsibility to the broader community,” attorney Jon Loevy said.
“I’m glad they righted their wrong,” Baker said.
As the State’s Attorney’s Office was made aware of this case by Baker’s legal team, prosecutors took immediate action that led to dismissal of this conviction, within one month’s time, a spokesperson says.