Burge Named in New Lawsuit From Wrongfully Convicted Man Who Faced Death

Torture Victim Kitchen Seeks Accountability from Burge, Daley, Others

Jul 01, 2010, 10:52 ET from Roderick MacArthur Justice Center

CHICAGO, July 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Less than three days after a jury convicted him of crimes connected with a torture spree he perpetrated on African Americans for more than two decades, disgraced former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge faced a new lawsuit filed Thursday by one of his victims, a former Death Row inmate who was exonerated last year after a court nullified his false murder confession illegally extracted by Burge.

Ronald Kitchen, who was declared innocent of charges in a sensational 1987 quintuple murder and released from prison last year, named Burge, several other Chicago cops, as well as Mayor Richard Daley and other former city and police officials as defendants in the lawsuit.  

According to the suit, Kitchen was charged with that crime after Burge, along with three detectives working under Burge's command and under the supervision of Burge's self-admitted right hand man, former Police Sergeant John Byrne, tortured him into making a false confession, and fabricated false evidence against him and his co-defendant, Marvin Reeves.

Kitchen was targeted despite evidence that could have implicated others in the 1987 killings of two women and three children on the South Side.

"Burge's conviction on Monday affords a measure of accountability to those he victimized – but the quest for justice doesn't end there," said Locke Bowman, Legal Director of the Roderick MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern University School of Law.  "Burge, his underlings and high-ranking officials in local law enforcement—including Mayor Daley—all conspired to take 21 years of freedom from Ronald Kitchen.  The justice system owes a debt to Ronald Kitchen for failing him so tragically."

After being tortured, Kitchen was convicted of the murders based only on his fictitious confession and the fabricated testimony of a jailhouse informant who colluded with investigators to falsely incriminate him.  Kitchen was sentenced to death and spent 21 years in prison – 13 on Death Row – before he was released last year and the charges against him were dropped.  The Circuit Court of Cook County granted Kitchen a Certificate of Innocence last year.  

The suit documents how Kitchen's torture, wrongful prosecution and false imprisonment occurred and continued because command personnel in the Chicago Police Department, successive Superintendents of Police, several Mayors of the City of Chicago and State's Attorneys of Cook County, most notably Richard M. Daley, and the Cook County State's Attorneys' Office, concealed and suppressed their knowledge of ongoing torture and physical abuse under Burge, blocked and undercut efforts within the Chicago Police Department to expose and discipline offending officers, refused to intervene to stop the continuing egregious and criminally unconstitutional misconduct after they were specifically informed of it, and refused to investigate and prosecute Burge and others who were responsible for the systemic pattern of torture.

"The time for accountability has come for everyone who either administered or condoned Jon Burge's reign of terror," said Flint Taylor of the Peoples Law Office, which has represented many of Burge's victims.  "Ronald Kitchen was victimized not just by Jon Burge, but by an entire system of justice that was willfully blind to the evidence of torture staring it in the face."  

Kitchen's case was not an isolated occurrence, the lawsuit demonstrates.  Rather, it was part of a pattern of systemic torture and physical abuse of at least 110 African American suspects at the Area 2 and Area 3 police headquarters from 1973 to 1991.  Burge was convicted on Monday of perjury and obstruction of justice.  

Kitchen's lawsuit also seeks damages from high-ranking officials who participated in an alleged conspiracy to cover-up the crimes committed by Burge and his officers, including Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, who was Cook County State's Attorney at the time of the murders.

Roderick MacArthur Justice Center is an independent, publicly funded law firm, founded in 1985 by Roderick MacArthur.


Mike Truppa

(312) 286-5077 (cell)

Locke Bowman

(773) 710-0158 (cell)

SOURCE Roderick MacArthur Justice Center