The city of Chicago should pay $500,000 to settle a lawsuit that sought to force the Chicago Police Department to turn over nearly five decades’ worth of secret files detailing allegations of misconduct by officers, city lawyers recommended.
In January, Judge Alison Conlon found that police and city officials had “willfully and intentionally failed to comply” with the Illinois Freedom of Information Act when it denied a request from Charles Green, who was sentenced to life in prison at age 16 after being convicted in a 1985 quadruple murder.
Jared Kosoglad, Green’s attorney, said the proposed settlement means the misconduct files will remain secret.
“They are paying to keep these files secret,” Kosoglad said. “It is insane.”
Kathleen Fieweger, a spokesperson for the city’s Department of Law, declined to comment on the proposed settlement, which will be considered on Monday by the City Council’s Finance Committee. A final vote could come at Wednesday’s City Council meeting.
Kosoglad called on Mayor Lori Lightfoot to order the files released in order to trigger a final reckoning on misconduct by Chicago police officers and fulfill her campaign promises to increase transparency and reform the Chicago Police Department.
Green is nearly blind and has not been able to find a job, Kosoglad said. The six-figure settlement will change his life, and he had no choice but to accept it, Kosoglad said.
Kosoglad said he will ask Gov. J.B. Pritzker to declare Green innocent later this month.
Green was released from prison in 2009, after he served 24 years. A judge released him after re-sentencing him to 40 years in prison, and determining that he had already served long enough. His conviction was not overturned.
Since his arrest, Green has maintained his innocence, saying he was coerced into confessing that he was paid $25 to knock on the door of a drug dealer's house so a rival drug dealer and an accomplice could enter the building where four people were stabbed to death.
Green said police questioned him for 27 hours, and he was prevented from presenting evidence at trial that he was not present at the West Side home at the time of the crime.
Green asked for copies of any and all closed complaint register files from 1967 to 2015 “in order to help him discover evidence of his innocence and to preserve and disseminate evidence of innocence to others wrongfully convicted,” according to his attorney.
The city rejected that request, triggering a court battle.
The records sought by Green, which include 75,000 files, each of which contain dozens to hundreds of pages, could provide the most detailed history of complaints filed against Chicago Police for five decades.