The murder case against him tossed, man sues city, Chicago Police
BY HANNAH LUTZ Sun-Times Media February 3, 2014 5:28PM
Daniel Taylor, of Chicago, who was exonerated after serving 20 years in prison for a double homicide, filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Chicago and several police officers, alleging that officers beat him into confessing to the crime and suppres
Updated: February 3, 2014 7:15PM
A former Chicago man who served more than 20 years in prison before Cook County prosecutors tossed the case says he wants justice for what he says are lost years of life spent behind bars as a result of a wrongful conviction.
“Twenty years of my life has been taken, and there’s no way I can get it back,” Daniel Taylor said at a press conference Monday.
Taylor and his attorneys from the MacArthur Justice Center at the Northwestern University School of Law and Loevy & Loevy law firm filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city of Chicago and police officers Monday, alleging authorities suppressed information that would have proven Taylor innocent.
What he’d like to see is law enforcement officer held responsible for their role
Taylor and his lawyers said the purpose of the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, is to increase awareness of what they call injustices in the city and police department. But if Taylor proves the case in court and the jury thinks his rights were violated, he may receive some compensation.
Police arrested Taylor, now an Evanston resident, when he was a Chicago kid, just 17, after Jeffrey Lassiter and Sharon Haugabook were shot and killed in Lassiter’s Uptown apartment on Nov. 16, 1992.
“I don’t have the words to explain what it feels like getting out [of prison] as a grown man and going in as a child,” Taylor said.
“What a 20-year-old knows about life, I do not. What a 15-year-old has in education, I do not,” he said.
Records show that police took Taylor into custody at the Chicago Police 23rd District station lockup on a disorderly conduct charge just before 7 p.m. the night of the homicides. He was released on bond at 10 p.m. The crime, however, took place about 8:45 p.m. that night — making it impossible for Taylor to commit murder, according to the lawsuit.
More detailed notes found last year by the Illinois attorney general’s office show that seven 23rd district police staff agreed Taylor was in a lockup during the murders, according to the lawsuit. Those records were not given to the defense during the first trial.
A retired police officer, one of the seven that agreed to Taylor’s lockup alibi, was on duty while Taylor was in the lockup. He said Taylor was not released before 10 p.m.Officers arrested Taylor in connection with the killings on Dec. 3, 1992, but Taylor denied knowledge of the crime. Police responded by hitting him with a flashlight and punching him while he was handcuffed to a wall, the lawsuit notes. They told him that if he confessed, he could go home. Taylor falsely confessed, under the notion that if he complied, he would be released, according to court documents.
Faye McCoy, a neighbor in Lassiter’s apartment building, said she saw four men leaving the building following the shooting, according to the lawsuit. She knew Taylor and many of the co-defendants, but she said she didn’t know any of the men exiting the building that night. She was only able to identify Dennis “Goldie” Mixon when police showed her photographs of potential suspects.
Officers coerced 15-year-old Lewis Gardner, who was somewhat mentally impaired, into falsely implicating himself, Taylor and five others into the murders, according to court documents.
Police officers then coerced Taylor and six others into false confessions with isolation, threats, physical abuse, refused use of restrooms and broken promises of going home, the lawsuit states.
Taylor was sentenced to life in prison.
But in June 2013, at age 37, Taylor’s conviction was vacated. he case against his co-defendant, Deon Patrick, now 42, also was tosssed last month.
Since his release, he has secured a job in Northwestern University’s science and technology department.
“I feel like that [obtaining employment] was the last piece to me feeling like I’ve finally become a productive member of society,” Taylor told reporters at a news conference at Northwestern’s law school in Chicago. “I definitely relish in it.”