Chicago and New York Pay a Combined $21.25 Million for Two Wrongful Murder Convictions
1996 Staten Island Murder
New York City has agreed to pay $7 million to a man who spent 23 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. Grant Williams was exonerated last summer in a 1996 shooting death in Staten Island. Williams, a father of three, has maintained his innocence since his arrest. No physical, forensic, or digital evidence tied Williams to the shooting. An eyewitness to the shooting, and a friend of the victim, told police that Williams was not the gunman. However, police did not tell prosecutors about this witness until after Williams was indicted. The only evidence tying Williams to the murder scene was a Wu-Tang Clan hat; Williams had worked at the multiplatinum-selling tap group’s Staten Island studio. Williams appealed his conviction for years without success. Finally, the Staten Island District Attorney agreed to review the case and found numerous errors with the investigation and prosecution. The District Attorney ultimately joined Williams in seeking the dismissal of his conviction, telling the court that the prosecutors now believe that Williams is innocent. Read more about this story here.
1992 Chicago Double Murder
Separately, the Chicago City Council has agreed to pay $14.25 million to a man who spent more than 20 years in prison for a 1992 double murder he did not commit. Daniel Taylor was only 17 when he was arrested for the murders. Taylor has always claimed that Chicago police coerced him into confessing to the crime. Several other suspects also testified that Chicago police used physical violence to coerce confessions. However, Taylor was already in police custody when these murders occurred. Chicago police hid this evidence from prosecutors. At trial, prosecutors presented no fingerprints, DNA, or other physical evidence tying Taylor to the crime, and relied solely on Taylor’s coerced confession.
Taylor’s conviction was vacated in 2013, and the Cook County Circuit Court granted him a certificate of actual innocence on January 23, 2014. Taylor then filed a civil suit against the City of Chicago and eight Chicago police officers. The lawsuit accused the City of “a pattern and practice of withholding exculpatory evidence from the courts, prosecutors, and defendants.” Four years ago, Chicago paid a $10.75 million settlement to Taylor’s co-defendants, Lewis Gardner and Paul Phillips, who were 15 and 17 years-old when the murder occurred. Like Taylor, both men were wrongfully convicted, both were sentenced to 30 years in prison, and both had confessed after Chicago police beat them during their investigation. In all, eight men were convicted for the double murder, but at least three of those men were actually innocent. Read more about this story here.
If you or a loved one have been harmed by police misconduct, then call Furman Honick Law today and speak with a partner for a free case evaluation.