CHICAGO — Charles Green was sentenced to life in prison as a teenager, for a crime he says he didn’t do.
Now a free man, he stands at the center of a major legal case involving the possible release of Chicago police misconduct records dating back to the late 1960s.
His story begins in 1985 when police arrested him for a quadruple murder on the West Side.
Green, then 16, was accused of accepting $25 to knock on the door of a drug dealer’s apartment so rivals could enter and kill the people inside.
Green claims his confession was coerced by police after being “held in isolation for multiple days and repeatedly interrogated.” He believed “if he complied with police officers they would allow him to see his family and go home,” according to legal filings.
Green walked out of prison in 2009 after a judge reduced his sentence amid questions about police tactics and why eyewitness testimony that could’ve helped Green was not allowed to be heard at trial.
Green has spent the last decade fighting to clear his name.
As part of that effort, his attorney, Jared Kosoglad, sent an open records request to Chicago Police, asking for “closed complaint register files,” or records of officer misconduct.
Not just those involving police on Green’s case – but the entire department going back to 1967.
Activists have argued for the release of complaint files, but most have remained hidden.
Legal experts say police could have argued Green’s request was overly burdensome. But the department didn’t respond, in violation of state law, and Green filed a lawsuit.
A Cook County judge has now ordered the city to release to release four years’ worth of records and submit a schedule for the release of the remaining files.
But Kosoglad says the city has turned over just 100 files.
A spokesman for the city Department of Law says the Lightfoot Administration is asking the judge to reconsider the decision to order the release of the files.
In a statement, he said:
“The City of Chicago is committed to the highest level of transparency and responds to tens of thousands of Freedom of Information Act requests every year, including requests regarding allegations against Chicago Police officers. This request is different, however, as it seeks every Complaint Register file created since 1967 – approximately 175,000 files, each of which contain dozens to hundreds of pages. The City is currently involved in litigation regarding this request, and the matter is still pending before the court. Complying with this request would present numerous challenges, including millions of dollars in costs and expended public resources."