CHICAGO (CBS) — A man arrested by two corrupt Chicago Police officers filed a petition to have his conviction vacated Wednesday, saying he was falsely arrested on drug charges ended up pleading guilty to a crime he did not commit to avoid prison time.
The petition was filed by the Exoneration Project on behalf of Matthew Dixon, who was arrested along with his friend Antwon Scott in 2017 by Officer David Salgado and Sgt. Xavier Elizondo.
Salgado and Elizondo were both later convicted of lying to judges to obtain search warrants so they could steal cash and drugs. But in Dixon’s case, attorneys said the officers never got a search warrant at all.
They also said Salgado lied extensively about the arrest.
“New evidence now demonstrates that Officer Salgado’s testimony at the Scott hearing was perjured, and Dixon is plainly innocent and framed,” the petition said.
On April 1, 2017, Dixon and Scott, were visiting Scott’s friend, Dolly Parker, in an apartment in the building at 7219 S. Phillips Ave. in South Shore, the petition said. Neither lived there, and neither had guns or drugs, the petition said.
Scott was there to drop off some clothes for Parker, whom the petition described as being “like an aunt to him.” Dixon left the apartment and went into the hallway, and at that point, someone he didn’t know opened the back door and police came rushing in, the petition said.
Dixon had never seen the officers who came in before, but they grabbed him, put him on the ground, and cuffed him, the petition said. When Scott opened the door to look for his friend, the officers rushed to the door and detained him too, the petition said.
The officers searched the apartment and found a gun. Scott insisted the gun was not his, but the officers arrested him anyway, the petition said.
In court, it was later determined that Scott’s arrest was based on a warrantless entry and search by police and the evidence was suppressed, the petition said.
Dixon did not even know why he was being arrested, the petition said. He was later told he was being charged with possessing cocaine with the intent to deliver, the petition said.
After Dixon was charged, he was placed on electronic monitoring, the petition said. But he was living at someone else’s home, and that person told him he would have to leave, the petition said.
Dixon knew he could not leave without violating the terms of his electronic monitoring and being sent to jail, the petition said. Thus, when the state offered him 24 months of probation in exchange for a guilty plea, he took the deal even though he had been falsely arrested and had done nothing to warrant the charges against him, the petition said.
Scott pleaded not guilty and fought the case, filing a motion to quash his arrest and suppress evidence, the petition said. On Jan. 23, 2018, a hearing was held on Scott’s motion with Officer Salgado as the only witness, the petition said.
Based on Salgado’s testimony, a judge found he had made a warrantless entry to the Phillips Avenue building and the motion was granted, the petition said. A month later, charges against Scott were dropped.
Police presented a different version of events in their reports and in Salgado’s testimony, which the petition said was not true.
Salgado is the first arresting officer and Elizondo the second on the Scott report, the petition said. Salgado claimed that he and Elizondo had been surveilling the Phillips Avenue building for two days straight based on a purported tip that Scott had been selling drugs there, the report said.
Salgado never documented the specifics of what he claimed to see, and he and Elizondo never got a because – Salgado testified – they could not verify the address of the apartment complex they were watching from their location, the petition said.
Salgado claimed he would not have been able to find out the address of the Phillips Avenue building without blowing his cover because drug sales were going on all the time at the front of the building where the address appeared, the petition said.
Salgado never asked anyone else for the address, nor did he use Google Maps or Cook County Assessor’s office date to figure it out – even though he had used those very methods in other cases, the petition said.
Salgado claimed at 12:50 p.m. on April 1, 2017, he saw two men knock on a back window from his surveillance point and then saw a locked door open, the petition said. Salgado claimed he and Elizondo then followed the two men through the door and into the vestibule, where he claimed he saw Dixon holding a “golf-size ball” of suspected crack cocaine, the petition said.
Salgado also testified he saw Scott step out of the apartment with a handgun protruding from his sweater pocket, the petition said.
Police reports also claim Dixon and Scott made admissions after being arrested, which both men deny, the petition said.
Last week, Salgado was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly to 71 months, nearly six years, in prison. Last month, Kennelly sentenced Elizondo to 87 months in prison.
The two were assigned to a gang unit in the 10th District on the West Side. Federal prosecutors have said they conspired to falsely obtain search warrants that allowed them to search properties and seize cash and drugs. They then falsified police reports to hide the thefts.
According to the indictment, Elizondo and Salgado submitted the applications for search warrants by having their informants furnish false information to a judge. After using the warrants to seize cash, drugs and cartons of cigarettes from Chicago properties, the officers allegedly gave a portion of those items to the informants.
The two were relieved of their police duties in 2018, and are also facing civil lawsuits from people whose homes were invaded in 2017 and 2018.
There are multiple stories of bad raids involving Elizondo and Salgado – many of which are listed in the Dixon petition.
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office has begun the process of addressing charges and convictions stemming from arrests made by Salgado and Elizondo. So far, they’ve dismissed charges in at least 38 cases.
Exoneration Project Attorney Joshua Tepfer issue the following statement to CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey:
“Time and time again the CPD and the City let corrupt officers like Elizondo and Salgado victimize and frame innocent individuals like Mr. Dixon, turning a blind eye as these same corrupt officers consistently lie in their reports and in court testimony. Years later, county prosecutors, state court judges, and others are left cleaning up the mess and to attempt to correct the injustices of years past. It is a pattern that has been going on for decades. And it is a pattern that has continued in the case of Elizondo and Salgado. We hope to get Mr. Dixon or any other victims of this type of police corruption prompt justice.
This comes on the heels of an ongoing CBS 2 investigation exposing wrong raids from CPD officers throughout the city. It was the subject of a CBS 2 documentary about the issue: [un]warranted.
If you have been a victim of a wrong raid, we want to hear from you. Click here to let CBS 2 know about your experience.