CHICAGO — A man serving life in prison for the 1982 deaths of two Chicago police officers was ordered released from prison Friday while awaiting his third trial.
Jackie Wilson walked out of Cook County Jail hours later, saying he is looking forward to “getting on with his life.”
“It’s been a rocky ride,” he said. “I would like to make my contribution to society.”
Judge William Hooks granted Wilson, 57, his release without having to post a cash bond. Hooks on Thursday tossed out Wilson’s confession that he fatally shot Officers Richard O’Brien and William Fahey and ordered a new trial.
It is the second time Wilson’s conviction has been overturned.
“In the totality of circumstances, this court does not find Wilson to be a danger to the community or a flight risk,” Hooks said in issuing his ruling. “The state has failed to provide just and proper cause for Mr. Wilson’s continued incarceration as a pretrial condition while the retrial of the case is pending.”
Arrangements have been made for Wilson to live at a halfway house and get counseling, defense attorney Elliot Slossar said Thursday.
Special Prosecutor Michael O’Rourke said he was disappointed by the judge’s ruling, saying he is considering an appeal.
“We are prepared, and will be prepared to retry this case, and we have every intention to do so,” O’Rourke said.
Attorneys for Wilson argued he was beaten into giving a confession, like his brother Andrew, by Cmdr. Jon Burge and his Area Two detectives. The squad has long been accused of overseeing the torture of black suspects.
“They beat me over the head with a dictionary, stuck a gun in my mouth. Then they did the electric shock,” Wilson said during a January court hearing. “That came after this guy played Russian roulette with a gun in my mouth.”
During Thursday’s hearing, prosecutors argued Wilson should be kept in jail, saying he teamed up with his now-deceased brother to shoot the officers during a traffic stop.
Kevin Graham, president of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, said Hooks’ ruling was “disgraceful.”
“I’m very disappointed that a man that is responsible, who was at the scene, that has admitted to being there when two honored police officers of the Chicago Police Department were murdered, gunned down, and he walks out,” Graham said.
Burge has never faced criminal charges for abuse. He was fired from the police department in 1993 over the 1982 beating and burning of Andrew Wilson. He died in prison in 2007, having been tried and convicted twice in the deaths of O’Brien and Fahey.
Burge was convicted in 2010 of lying about whether he ever witnessed or participated in the torture of suspects and served a term in federal prison.