This morning Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s team stood up for nine more victims who were falsely accused—and later convicted—of crimes by corrupt former Chicago Police Sergeant Ronald Watts. Via a Zoom hearing this morning, Cook County Judge Erica Reddick granted the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office’s (CCSAO) motions to vacate the convictions of nine more Watts victims.
The CCSAO continues to review cases related to Watts who has a history of preying on people from struggling Chicago communities and falsely pinning crimes to these voiceless victims. Since State’s Attorney Foxx took office in December 2016, the CCSAO has reversed a total of 109 cases involving former Sergeant Watts.
”There’s a lingering pit in my stomach due to the real sorrow that for so long Sergeant Watts and his crew were able to terrorize and criminalize a community. Today, we were able to bring some justice to nine people who were targeted and victimized by former Sergeant Watts,” said State’s Attorney Foxx. “Former Sergeant Watts has caused irreparable damage to our community, but he also undermined the integrity of our justice system which harms us all. Communities who are dealing with unrelenting violence need to believe that law enforcement is there to aid, not hurt. His actions diminished faith in our system. Today is a small step toward righting the wrongs of the past, and, hopefully, we can start to build back trust in law enforcement,” Foxx continued.
The CCSAO’s Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU), tasked with investigating and addressing claims of wrongful convictions, continued reviewing cases after a pattern of misconduct and criminal actions by Watts was uncovered, resulting in lacking confidence of the initial arrests and validity of the convictions.
“Vacating the convictions of these nine people today who were targeted by former Police Sergeant Watts provides just a fraction of relief for those who spent time in prison, away from their families, as we will never be able to give them that time back,” Foxx said. “We’ve now reversed 109 cases related to former Sergeant Watts, and we will continue to seek justice for all his victims,” Foxx continued.
In 2017, newly in her role as State’s Attorney, Foxx directed her administration to initiate court action regarding cases involving Watts, resulting in 18 individuals who had their convictions vacated that year. In 2018 her administration acted again, and another 28 individuals were granted conviction relief for their Watts-related cases.
Under the Foxx administration, the work of the CIU has led to vacated convictions of 118 different cases of 98 individuals.