Exonerated inmate sues city, police


Anthony Soave

Exonerated inmate sues city, police

By Assistant Metro Editor

After spending 20 years in prison for a double homicide he did not commit, Daniel Taylor is suing the city and members of the Chicago Police Department, claiming he was a victim of police brutality and was coerced into giving a false confession.

Taylor, 38, was exonerated June 28, 2013, after his case caught the attention of Chicago Tribune reporter Steve Mills, who wrote several investigative articles outlining how records showed Taylor was in jail at the time of the murders. The articles then led the Roderick MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern University’s School of Law to push for his exoneration. The Circuit Court of Cook County granted him a certificate of innocence Jan. 23, and on Feb. 3, civil rights law firm Loevy & Loevy filed a lawsuit against the city on Taylor’s behalf.

At the time of the murder, 17-year-old Taylor was already being held in custody on charges of disorderly conduct and was not released until after the double homicide was committed on Nov. 16, 1992, according to Taylor’s complaint against the city.

Because police were not able to find the possible suspects witnesses described, the investigation ended, until officers allegedly coerced the victim’s neighbor into making a false confession that incriminated himself, Taylor and five other young men in the homicides, according to court documents. The officers allegedly tortured the men until they confessed.

When Taylor denied having any knowledge of the crime, police allegedly beat him with a flashlight while he was handcuffed to a wall. The case report says officers fabricated evidence that put Taylor at the crime scene and intimidated a witness into falsely claiming he had seen Taylor at the scene, despite him being held for a different crime at the same time.

“Taylor had the most airtight alibi you can imagine,” said Gayle Horn, one of the attorneys representing Taylor. “That is why the misconduct in this is so egregious.”

As a result, Taylor was convicted of first-degree murder, armed robbery and home invasion. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Taylor now lives in Evanston and works for Northwestern’s Science and Technology Department. He said he feels like a productive member of society.

“I am bringing this lawsuit up because I want justice,” Taylor said. “Too many years of my life have been taken and there is no way I will get it back. There are other people in my situation right now fighting for their life.”

Locke Bowman, director of the Roderick MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern University’s School of Law, said the center and Taylor’s attorneys look forward to successfully prosecuting the case.

“It is time for the other shoe to drop,” Bowman said. “The police officers who are responsible for this travesty of justice need to be brought to justice themselves,”

Roderick Drew, spokesman for the Chicago Law Department, said he could not comment on the case because the city’s lawyers have not reviewed the lawsuit as of press time.

Taylor said the night of his arrest still haunts him. He said at one point during his sentence, he tried to take his own life because he could not wake up to the cell bars and a steel toilet for the rest of his life.

“As a grown man, if I could have just taken the beating, held it and stood strong … I wouldn’t have done 20 years for something I didn’t do,” Taylor said. “I want to achieve some kind of justice for being wrongfully convicted and get my life back on track…. Should someone see me or recognize me, I don’t want them to think I’m some kind of criminal.”