One of the men wrongfully accused by disgraced former Chicago police Sgt. Ronald Watts is suing the city, just under a year after he and more than a dozen others saw their convictions overturned in Cook County’s first mass exoneration.
Jamar Lewis, 33, filed the complaint Monday in Cook County Circuit Court, arguing the city’s officers “acted with malice” when falsely accusing him of selling drugs in 2004 inside the Ida B. Wells Homes public housing complex.
As a result, Lewis endured “a malicious prosecution” and “loss of freedom and liberty,” according to the lawsuit.
He was convicted in 2005 and served all five years of his sentence before the verdict was tossed out November by the Cook County state’s attorney office in an exoneration of 15 men who were framed by Sgt. Watts and his officers.
Watts and Officer Kallatt Mohammed were indicted on federal charges in 2012 after one of their targets turned out to be an FBI informant. A little less than a year ago, 15 officers serving under him were demoted to desk duty.
Last month, the Cook County state’s attorney office announced another 18 men who faced drug accusations from planted evidence and falsified testimonies would have their convictions tossed.
Lewis and the other 14 men freed with him sued the city earlier this year for its police department’s alleged “code of silence” that allowed Watts to carry out his bribes and fabricated arrest reports.
His latest lawsuit said the officers in 2004 concocted a story that he was selling drugs inside a hallway and had jettisoned a bag filled with drugs down a trash chute nearby.
Watts had intentionally targeted Lewis to receive “unlawful searches, false arrests, and false charges,” according to the suit.
Lewis also faces federal drug charges from a federal narcotics sting operation earlier this year. Prosecutors said Lewis sold more than a kilogram of heroin to a co-defendant, according to a complaint unsealed in April.
His suit against the city seeks an unspecified amount in damages.
A city spokesman declined to comment about the suit because the litigation was pending.