Kim Foxx removes prosecutors in Chicago cop's murder case after claims of police misconduct

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx has pulled the prosecutors handling murder cases stemming from a Chicago police officer's killing.

In 2011, Officer Clifton Lewis was shot in a botched robbery while working a second job in a West Side convenience store.

The veteran attorneys handling the case have since been accused of trying to hide evidence. They allegedly used private email accounts in 2012 and 2013 to communicate with detectives.

Judge Erica Reddick ruled Friday that Tyrone Clay, who has been jailed without bond since his arrest in early 2012, will remain in custody despite allegations prosecutors withheld a trove of files and other evidence from Clay’s lawyers. That purportedly includes data from a PlayStation Clay said he was playing at the time of the murder and cellphone data that shows he was nowhere near the scene.

According to prosecutors, Clay allegedly sprayed gunfire at Lewis as the off-duty officer lay wounded behind a convenience store counter during an armed robbery of an Austin convenience store, a crime captured on harrowing surveillance video and linked to Clay by two witnesses.

That key evidence remains largely unchanged in the 11 years Clay has spent in the Cook County Jail awaiting trial on murder charges, Assistant State’s Attorney Andrew Varga said.


When Lewis fell down after being shot in the abdomen by one of Clay’s co-defendants, Alexander Villa, "Mr. Clay reached over the counter, fired multiple shots down at Ofc. Lewis from a range of, what, 2 or 3 feet," Varga said.

Clay’s lawyer pointed out that when Clay goes to trial, one of those witnesses has recanted their testimony, and an appeals court ruled that Clay’s alleged confession to the murder can’t be used as evidence because of misconduct by the detectives who interrogated him.

"The only thing they have is two corrupted witnesses, and that’s supposing one of them will testify and the other will not be significantly damaged by cross examination," Assistant Public Defender Marijane Placek said.

One of those "corrupted" witnesses — another co-defendant, Edgardo Colon — sat behind Placek in the courtroom gallery, free on bond and wearing an electronic monitoring device since his 2017 conviction for Lewis’s murder was overturned two years ago.

Colon signed an affidavit stating police coerced him into confessing and implicating Clay and Villa, whose trial Colon refused to testify at in 2019. Villa still is awaiting sentencing as his lawyers have sought a new trial based on alleged misconduct by police and prosecutors.

Reddick in recent months has shown little patience for prosecutors and CPD lawyers as attorneys for the three defendants claim to have proof investigators hid evidence from the defense.

Reddick in November ordered police and prosecutors to "go to the outer limits" to provide all files related to a massive CPD sweep conducted to gather evidence against Colon and members of the Spanish Cobras street gang, an effort dubbed "Operation Snake Doctor" which led to more than 100 arrests.

In a court filing Thursday, Colon’s lawyers said they had discovered new evidence from "Operation Snake Pit," a second investigation tied to the Lewis murder that had not been disclosed to the defense.

Reddick had denied Clay bond twice previously, after a 2018 ruling tossing Clay’s confession because it was made after he’d asked for a lawyer, and again after an appeals court in 2020 upheld that ruling.

Reddick said Friday she weighed the prospective new evidence and Colon’s recantation, but found the "proof was evident" that Clay committed the crime, one of the key factors in determining whether a defendant must be held without bond. She did not offer her opinion on a second factor, that the "presumption was great" that prosecutors would be able to prove their case at trial.

As he sat in the courtroom after Reddick ruled, Clay tore off a surgical mask he was wearing, and alternately slouched back in his seat or leaned over the defense table. At one point, he looked out into the courtroom gallery at his mother, who mouthed the words "calm down." One of Clay’s sisters burst out of her seat, and walked quickly out of the courtroom, slamming the door and shouting expletives.

"I’m hurting because I know my son was set up in this case," Clay’s mother, Lavetta Maxwell, said outside the courtroom. "He hasn’t had any kind of trial for 11 years. It’s terrifying. We’re not getting justice."

Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.