A Chicago police union official on Monday blasted a $31 million settlement for four men whose convictions got overturned in an Englewood murder, calling the wrongful conviction movement “a cottage industry” that uses taxpayers as a blank check in pricey settlements.

Fraternal Order of Police Vice President Martin Preib spoke during the public comment portion of the City Council Finance Committee meeting, where aldermen approved the money for the four men who each spent some 15 years in prison for a 1994 rape and murder before DNA linked the crime to a convicted killer, the Chicago Tribune reports.

As city attorney Jane Elinor Notz explained the lawsuit settlement to aldermen, she also revealed that two Chicago police detectives who allegedly played a part in making the case against the “Englewood Four” in 1995 are now the subject of an investigation by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability.

 “What is happening in this city is that the civil rights lawyers have carved out a cottage industry in the name of wrongful convictions,” Preib told aldermen. “They look to this chamber as their blank check. Their playbook is simple: they claim police misconduct, get the prosecutors to exonerate, draft a willing media and then manipulate the citizens of Chicago out of their tax money.”

Preib said in the Englewood Four case, it’s “ludicrous” to think a group of detectives would frame the men when the real killer was still walking around to potentially “reveal their frame-up.”

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