Cook County Judge Erica Reddick is continuously throwing out convictions tied to former Chicago police sergeant Ronald Watts who reportedly framed people for drug crimes they didn’t commit.
On Monday, Reddick threw out eight more convictions after removing 44 in April and 48 in February. Over 200 cases linked to Watts were thrown out after the framed victims’ attorney petitioned with the help of Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx.
“In order to restore trust in the criminal justice system as a prosecutor, we must approach every case with an eye toward the facts, the evidence, and the law,” Fox said in a press release.
For about a decade, former Black officer Watts planted drugs and accused those living in a public housing complex, along with those who were visiting and people who happened to be in the area. All of the victims were men.
Watts and another officer, Kallatt Mohammed, were caught in 2012 after the FBI captured them stealing money from a police informant posing as a drug dealer carrying drug money. In 2013, the two former officers pleaded guilty, and Watts received a 22-mont prison sentence.
According to AP news, 15 other officers were a part of Watts’ unit and were placed on desk duty during the investigation.
Although Foxx is grateful for vacating convictions, she stated it wasn’t enough.
“Vacating these convictions provides just a fraction of relief for those who spent time in prison, away from their families, and we will never be able to give them that time back,” Foxx said. “We will continue to review these cases as we seek justice for all his victims.”
Some victims had to spend years behind bars for bogus charges caused by Watts. One of them, Kim Wilbourn, said he was traumatized by the experience.
“To this day, I am not physically capable to go to sleep right. I can’t eat the same anymore,” Wilbourn told CBS News. “The way I think is messed up. I can’t get a job. I’m physically capable, but what this man did to me destroyed any capability of me becoming something.”