WAUKEGAN, Ill. — Martell Williams was pulled from school and arrested by Waukegan Police last year and wrongfully charged with attempted murder.  

The male teen was later exonerated with an apology from the police. Still, the teen and his mother have filed a lawsuit in federal court.  

Kevin O’Connor says it’s taken a toll on his young client, the now 16-year-old Martell Williams, who said he is still traumatized by his wrongful arrest last February. 

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“I was very confused by the situation,” Williams said on March 14, 2022. “I was scared. I just wanted to go home.”

“They’re keeping him until the wee hours of the night, questioning him, when he’s gotten no sleep. He’s clearly very cold. He’s tired,” William’s attorney Kevin O’Connor said.

Waukegan police detectives allegedly coerced a false confession out of the terrified teen. The teen was later released when it became clear he was playing basketball in Lincolnshire as a gunman in Waukegan opened fire on a Dollar Store clerk. 

Outrage over the controversial interrogation tactics sparked changes within the Waukegan Police Department and the school system. Changes included notifying parents before questioning juveniles. State law also prohibits detectives from lying to a minor.  

But O’Connor worries it’s not enough.  

“They replaced the police chief, that police chief has now resigned. They’ve got another police chief. What you need is stability,” O’Connor said.

That alleged lack of stability and other concerns fueled the decision to file a lawsuit in federal court.

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City leadership says now that the matter is in court and could not comment on specific allegations in the complaint.

In a written statement, a City of Waukegan spokesman said they are committed to protecting juveniles’ rights.     

“Police officers and detectives will not interrogate a juvenile suspect unless they have a parent, guardian or attorney present for questioning. Further, the Waukegan Police Department will no longer arrest juveniles on school grounds for alleged criminal conduct that occurred off campus.”

The entire matter will soon be in the hands of a US District Judge.