CHICAGO – Governor J.B. Pritzker has commuted Gerald Reed’s sentence, the man who claimed he was tortured into falsely confessing to a 1990 double murder under former Police Commander Jon Burge.
According to the Office of Gov. Pritzker, Reed was commuted as a result of time served.
Reed has long maintained his innocence, saying that the detectives — Michael Kill and Victor Breska — who forced a confession out of him were part of a squad under Burge’s command. The group was accused of torturing more than 100 suspects — mostly black men — into confessions between 1972 and 1991.
Burge, who was fired from the department in 1993 but allowed to keep his pension, was convicted of perjury. He was sentenced to four years in prison but was never prosecuted for torture. He died in 2018.
The same year, a judge granted Reed a new trial but retired before Reed could have his day in court.
A new judge assigned to the case declined to move forward with a new trial.
“Reed has been incarcerated for 30 long years of his life and this still is not justice for Mr. Reed,” said Mark Clements of Chicago Torture Justice Center. “What people fail to realize is that Jon Burge and his detectives, they tortured confessions out of people. Some of those same detectives are deemed so credible where they are testifying against men and women to keep them in prison.”
Reed’s mother, Armanda Shackelford, told WGN she thought she’d never see the day her son was released from prison.
“It shouldn’t have never happened in the first place place,” she said. “They never found any evidence to prove he did those crimes.”
Shackelford says she wants the police officers involved in her son’s imprisonment not only to understand how she feels but asks that they hold themselves accountable.
“Sir, that was so wrong what you did to my son,” she said. “I hope and pray that you never have the chance to hurt another person. You have to give an account for all the lives you’ve destroyed. All the families you have hurt.”
Protesters on Thursday demanded that Cook County Special Prosecutor Robert Milan be stripped from Reed’s case and all others related to Burge.
Moving forward, Shackelford says her son will fight to clear his name and record. Reed is expected to be released from prison on Monday.
“We need to keep fighting,” she said. “I’m not going to give up. We’ve come too far. In this case, it’s come so far. I didn’t think it was going to come to an end. God saw different.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.