Man acquitted in murder of toddler suing city

Kamel Harris was acquitted last year by a Cook County jury in the murder of 2-year-old Kyrian Knox. Kyrian’s body parts were found in the Garfield Park Lagoon in 2015.

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Police search the Garfield Park Lagoon over Labor Day weekend four years ago, after the remains of 2-year-old Kyrian Knox were discovered. Kamel Harris, charged with killing and dismembering the boy, was acquitted this spring.

Police search the Garfield Park Lagoon over Labor Day weekend in 2015, after the remains of 2-year-old Kyrian Knox were discovered.

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A man who was acquitted in the heinous murder of a toddler whose dismembered body was found in the Garfield Park Lagoon is suing the city of Chicago.

Kamel Harris, 45, filed the lawsuit Monday in Cook County Circuit Court, accusing the city of a malicious prosecution that led to him being behind bars for more than two years while he awaited trial.

A jury cleared Harris of all charges last year.

Harris said his ties to the case caused him to lose custody of his daughter and son and that he continues to have a difficult time finding work because of the accusations against him, according to the suit.

Kyrian Knox | Photo courtesy ABC7 Chicago

Kyrian Knox

Sun-Times file photo

The discovery of 2-year-old Kyrian Knox’s feet, hands and head in the lagoon over the 2015 Labor Day weekend shocked the city and made national news. Because some of Kyrian’s other body parts were never found, an exact cause of death was never determined.

It would take more than a year before Harris was charged with the murder. Harris had been watching Kyrian as well as his 2-year-old grandson in Rockford while their mothers looked for work in Iowa. But Harris said he turned Kyrian over to a man and two women, who said they were there to pick up the child and had him speak to a woman on a cellphone who said she was Lanisha Knox, Kyrian’s mother. Harris testified that he was stunned when his daughter called two weeks later, saying she and Knox were coming to pick up the kids.

In this week’s court filing, Harris accuses city officials, including then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel and former Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson of seeking to use an arrest in Kyrian’s murder as a public relations victory for the city, which was embroiled in controversy stemming from the murder of Laquan McDonald by Officer Jason Van Dyke.

The detectives in the case, the suit claims, did not fully investigate leads as they sought to pin the blame on Harris. Those detectives also gave false statements for search warrants, relied on the testimony of unreliable sources in the Winnebago County Jail, where Harris was locked up on an unrelated charge, and coerced Harris’ live-in girlfriend to give statements that implicated Harris in Kyrian’s murder, the suit says.

Kamel Harris

Kamel Harris

Courtesy CBS 2

During the eight-day jury trial last May, prosecutors showed jurors gruesome images of Kyrian’s body parts after they were recovered from the lagoon and largely relied on circumstantial evidence.

Harris is seeking unspecified damages for the loss of his freedom and emotional harm, according to the suit, which requests a jury trial.

A spokeswoman for the city did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

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