CHICAGO — Ten men were exonerated Monday morning from drug convictions linked to former Chicago police Sgt. Ronald Watts.
Attorneys for the Exoneration Project say Watts and his team took bribes, stole from drug dealers, planted evidence and fabricated charges for more than a decade. Watts was indicted in 2012.
“Being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sergeant Watts made life hard for us as young children growing up. He put drugs on me for no reason for hanging around outside with my friends. What could you do about it?” said Zarice Johnson, one of the men who was exonerated today.
This is the fourth mass exoneration in less than a year connected to Watts. The last group was exonerated in November. Four more people will go before a judge to be exonerated on Wednesday.
If all goes as planned this week, attorneys say the total number of exonerations will climb to 63. The attorneys say it won’t end there, as there are more cases under review.
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx has apologized following past mass exonerations connected to Watts. Her office says that they no longer use testimony from any of the officers tied to Watts.