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Justice in sight for police torture victim?

By Starla Muhammad -Staff Writer- | Last updated: Feb 5, 2013 - 11:14:33 AM

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Darrell Cannon (middle) a victim of police torture is flanked left to right by, Atty. Locke Bowman, his wife Ester Cannon, Zakiyyah S. Muhammad, Atty. Joey Mogul, Atty. Ben Elson, Atty. Flint Taylor and Atty. Charles Hoffman. Photo: Starla Muhammad

CHICAGO ( - Darrell Cannon, his legal team and supporters wore smiles and were cautiously optimistic after oral arguments presented before the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals at the Dirksen Federal Building downtown.

At issue was whether Mr. Cannon, after being brutally tortured by Chicago cops into confessing to a crime he did not commit and serving 24 years in prison, is due a fair monetary settlement for his pain, anguish and stolen years.

Mr. Cannon is just one of dozens of known victims brutalized into false confessions by rogue Chicago police officers under the watch of former police commander Jon Burge. Mr. Burge and his band of officers known as “The Midnight Crew” beat and tortured Black men and women during a reign of terror that lasted over three decades. Mr. Burge, who retired from the police department, is now in jail for perjury related to the torture allegations.

Jon Burge

Mr. Cannon’s lead attorney, Flint Taylor in presenting strong, almost irrefutable arguments to the three appellate court judges sought to have a previous district court ruling blocking any additional settlement sought by his client overturned. Early on Mr. Cannon agreed to a paltry payment as part of a settlement before the Burge torture controversy exploded with numerous victims named, released from prison and granted substantial compensation.

“Before it was known that there was this scandal, that there was this conspiracy to torture and to cover it up, Mr. Cannon took a $3,000 settlement for all of his claims. The city was arguing well he was stuck with that amount of money because he signed the settlement agreement in 1988,” Atty. Taylor of The People’s Law Office, told The Final Call after the Jan. 22 hearing.

“Our argument was that because of all the racially motivated conspiracy to torture and to cover it up only came to light after Mr. Cannon took his settlement; that he should be allowed to proceed with a new case. Now that he’s been released from prison after 24 years in the penitentiary and that was our argument,” added Atty. Taylor.

In 1983, Mr. Cannon was taken to a remote location by Chicago police where a shotgun was jammed into his mouth, splitting his lip and the trigger pulled repeatedly in efforts to simulate his execution. Mr. Cannon said officers also tried to hang him by his hands as they were cuffed behind his back. An electric cattle prod was used to shock his genitals.

There are at least 20 more Black men, still in prison who said they too are victims of coerced confessions by The Midnight Crew.

“I heard something on Dr. King, one of his speeches yesterday and it’s profound for today’s events. Dr. King once did a speech where he said darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only the light can drive out darkness. Today again the light was shone, the light was spread through all the dark lies and deceptions that the city has been saying from day one. The light showed the truth,” Mr. Cannon told The Final Call.

“These judges here, conservative judges, knowledgeable judges and it seemed like the panel of judges did in fact know what the truth was and could see through it and they displayed that through the things that they said and the questions that they asked,” said Mr. Cannon.

Accordingly, Atty. Taylor expects the appellate court decision within three to six months. If the appellate court overturns the decision, Mr. Cannon’s case will head back to district court for a trial or the city may attempt to settle.

“I will not predict what the court will do but I would say that the judges were very favorable to our argument, very critical of the city’s position in the case,” said the longtime civil rights attorney.

Meanwhile, Mr. Cannon has not forgotten the other victims of Chicago’s most notorious police abuse scandal that spanned the 1970s through the 1990s.

“For me, I’ll continue to fight the fight, not only for Darrell Cannon but for those that are still in prison who have yet to have their day in court. We will not allow this situation to diminish just because Jon Burge is in the penitentiary. Jon Burge did not torture African Americans by himself. He had a gang of cutthroats that assisted him. We want the cutthroats in jail just like Jon Burge,” said Mr. Cannon who was hugged by members of his legal team outside the courtroom after proceedings.

Mr. Burge was convicted of three counts of perjury and obstruction of justice and was sentenced Jan. 21, 2011 to 4 1/2 years in prison. He continues to collect his roughly $3,000 a month police pension while those who say they are victims of Burge torture and the cover up continue to languish in prison.

To date, the city of Chicago has paid over $30 million in settlements and legal fees stemming from the Burge torture cases. At presstime an additional settlement of another $10.25 million to another victim was pending. No official apology has come from the city of Chicago to the victims.

“We want those that have been wrongfully convicted through torture and lies and deceptions to have a new day in court so this is what fuels my fire continuously and today was fantastic and it gives rise again that justice shall prevail,” said Mr. Cannon.

Related news:

Police torture panel shuts down but what about victims? (FCN, 08-03-2012)

Top torture cop sentenced, justice still elusive (FCN, 02-02-2011)

After 20 years in jail, Burge accuser walks free (FCN, 09-28-2010)

Activists want ex-cop accused of torture jailed, police torture outlawed (FCN, 06-12-2010)

U.S. political prisoners have endured decades of abuse, many face death in prison (FCN, 04-25-2010)

Police torture victim released from jail after 23 years (FCN, 01-25-2010)

New hope for alleged torture victims in Illinois (FCN, 08-31-2009)

Alleged torture victim gets new trial (FCN, 06-01-2009)

Farrakhan: Give justice to victims of police torture (FCN, 05-13-2009)