Chicago Police Tortured Confessions out of Suspects

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Medieval torture, by Flickr user "Curious Expeditions", licensed via Creative Commons.Actual picture of the inside of Chicago police headquarters.

Two men who were allegedly tortured by Chicago police during former Detective  Commander John Burge’s tenure have been awarded over $7 million in damages to settle their lawsuit against the city. Michael Tillman spent over 20 years in prison for a murder he did not commit as a result of Burge’s military-inspired torturing. Tillman was approved for $5.3 million of the settlement money. The other $1.8 million was issued to David Fauntleroy, who spent 23 years in jail on the strength of another torture-induced confession to murder and armed robbery.  If the Chicago City Council approves both settlements, the total taxpayer cost of Burge’s case will exceed $40 million.  Because of the timing of the settlement, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley will not be questioned about his involvement with Burge’s reign of terror, which is something the whole city was looking forward to.

Both Tillman’s and Fauntleroy’s cases happened in the mid 1980’s, when Burge and his peers, dubbed “the Midnight Crew”, were at the height of their power. Having formerly served in the United States Military, it has been suggested that Burge developed his tactics based on what he saw during his tour of duty.  The Midnight Crew’s methods of extracting confessions included such techniques as bludgeoning Tillman with a phonebook or applying electric shocks.  Burge was fired from the Chicago Police Department in 1993 for using torture methods on over 200 criminal suspects.  Many of his victims received new trials and were subsequently declared innocent.  Since his firing, public outcry led to further investigations into his misdeeds.  In 2007, he was arrested for perjury, having lied pretty blatantly about the whole torture thing.  He was finally convicted in 2010 and is now serving a four and a half year prison sentence.