Court Expected to Order Release of Innocent Burge Torture Victim from Prison Thursday

Jan 14, 2010, 07:50 ET from MacArthur Justice Center

23 1/2 Years After Wrongful Conviction, State to Drop Charges against Michael Tillman, Attorneys Anticipate

CHICAGO, Jan. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following was released today by the MacArthur Justice Center:

WHAT:  Ending a 23 1/2 year ordeal for another victim of torture linked to indicted former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge, a Cook County Circuit Court Judge is expected on Thursday to vacate the wrongful murder conviction of Michael Tillman and order a new trial in his case. It is anticipated  that Cook County Special Prosecutors, who have previously informed the judge that they believe Tillman's confession was coerced by Area 2 brutality, and that they have no additional evidence of guilt, will then dismiss the 1986 murder charge against Tillman during a hearing Thursday before Cook County Circuit Judge Vincent Gaughan.  Tillman will then be released, his attorneys anticipate.

Tillman's petition for a new trial in the case, which stands unopposed by the Special Prosecutors, sets forth evidence that Tillman's wrongful conviction was hinged on a bogus confession that Burge's infamous "Midnight Crew" at Area 2 Police Headquarters tortured from him during a three-day interrogation, which included a crude form of waterboarding, suffocation with a plastic bag, beating with a telephone book, and a mock execution at a remote site. The Prosecutors also have not contested Tillman's evidence that he was factually innocent of the murder.  Significantly, this is the firm time a Cook County Prosecutor has acknowledged that a Burge victim's coerced confession was a result of "a pattern and practice of abuse at Area 2 in regards to numerous suspects."

WHEN: 9:00 AM on Thursday, January 14, 2010

WHERE: Room 500 of Cook County Criminal Courts Building (26th and California)


Flint Taylor, Joey Mogul, Sarah Gelsomino, and Ben Elson, Peoples Law Office

Locke Bowman, MacArthur Justice Center

Representatives of Michael Tillman's family


Tillman was tortured under the supervision of Area 2 Police Sergeant John Byrne, Burge's chief henchman, and by several other notorious Area 2 Burge disciples, including detective Peter Dignan.   The atrocities inflicted on Tillman were part of a three-decade spree of torture that Burge and his associates perpetrated against at least 110 African-American suspects from the early 1970s through the early '90s.  Burge was indicted late last year in connection with the torture allegations, while Byrne, Dignan and their associates remain under Federal investigation.

The Roderick MacArthur Justice Center is an independent, publicly funded law firm,

founded in 1985 by Roderick MacArthur.

SOURCE MacArthur Justice Center