Chicago to pay $14 million to settle lawsuits tied to disgraced police Cmdr. Jon Burge

The Chicago City Council approved paying out $14 million to settle two wrongful conviction lawsuits tied to the Jon Burge torture era.

The suits were filed by Kevin Bailey and Corey Batchelor, who were both 19-years-old when they say they were tortured by Chicago police officers into giving false confessions to a murder.

"They get him to falsely confess to a crime he didn't commit. So life is kidnapped at age 19 and he is damaged to this day," said Jon Loevy, who represented Batchelor in this wrongful conviction lawsuit.

The crime Batchelor and Bailey were convicted of was the 1989 murder of a retired police sergeant’s wife. After a combined 43 year in prison, Loevy says DNA evidence showed they didn't kill her.

"That's the problem with every wrongful conviction is the wrong guy does the time and the real killer escapes justice. Tragedy compounding for the victim's family," said Loevy.

Their attorneys say the officers at fault were trained by former commander Jon Burge, whose time of terror at the Chicago Police Department decades ago continues to cost the city.

After the city council unanimously approved the settlement for Bailey and Batchelor, the mayor said the city has paid a heavy toll for Burge's alleged crimes.

"We have to make sure when the claims are valid, we do what we can to address the harm that's been done," said Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

"I think if there's any message to be sent, it's that wrongful convictions not only are tragic for the people affected, but expensive and not a good way to do business. And I think all of us would like to see the city do a better job of cleaning up the problem so that we don't ruin people's lives and we don't have to pay big judgments," said Loevy.

In a statement announcing the settlement, Kevin Bailey wrote, "I'm glad I can put this lawsuit behind me, but these detectives took 28 years of my life. I'll never get that time back and no amount of money could ever compensate me for what I've lost."

Burge, who died in 2018 at the age of 70, was accused of torturing suspects in his South Side police district but never prosecuted for the alleged crimes.

Burge led a "midnight crew" of rogue detectives accused of torturing more than 100 suspects, mostly Black men, from 1972 to 1991, in order to secure confessions. His alleged victims were shocked with cattle prods, smothered with typewriter covers and had guns shoved in their mouths.

Burge was fired in 1993 and sentenced to prison in 2011 for lying in a civil case about his actions. It was too late to charge him criminally on the torture charges.


In 2015, the city of Chicago agreed to pay $5.5 million in reparations to 57 Burge victims.

The allegations against Burge and his men even helped shape Illinois' debate over the death penalty. Then-Gov. George Ryan released four condemned men from death row in 2003 after Ryan said Burge extracted confessions from them using torture. The allegations eventually led to a moratorium on executions in Illinois. The state officially abolished the death penalty in 2011.

Dean Angelo, who was the former head of the Fraternal Order of Police in Chicago, insisted that Burge "put a lot of bad guys in prison."

"I don't know that Jon Burge got a fair shake based on the years and years of service that he gave the city," Angelo previously said.

At Burge's 2010 federal trial, Burge's lawyers called the accusers thugs and liars who were maligning an honorable man who had served in the U.S. military in Korea and Vietnam and returned with a Bronze Star. Burge took the stand and broke his long silence, repeatedly denying he had tortured anyone. A jury disagreed and found Burge guilty of perjury.

At his 2012 sentencing, one alleged victim said Burge was so cruel that he laughed while he tortured him. Burge said he was "deeply sorry" for the disrepute his case had brought on the Chicago Police Department, but he offered no apologies for his actions.

U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow cited Burge's "unwillingness to acknowledge the truth in the face of all the evidence" and sentenced him to 4 1/2 years in prison.

Associated Press contributed to this report.