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Darien Harris

Source: screenshot / Twitter

A Chicago man is gradually trying to pick up the pieces after spending 12 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. One of his first steps included suing the city and the police department for his wrongful arrest and conviction. 

According to AP, Darien Harris filed a civil lawsuit in April claiming Chicago Police fabricated evidence and coerced witnesses into making false statements.

In 2014, Harris who was only 18 at the time, was arrested in connection to the 2011 fatal shooting of Rondell Moore at a gas station on the South Side.  

During his trial, a legally blind eyewitness identified Harris in a police lineup and again in court, claiming he heard gunshots and saw a person aiming a handgun while riding his scooter the night of the murder. 

When defense attorneys pressed the witness about his diabetes and affected vision, he admitted to being diagnosed as legally blind nine years before the incident, according to court records. 

A gas station attendant also testified that Harris was not the shooter, but he was still convicted and handed a 76-year prison sentence. Harris also told the court that he was not at the gas station during the night of the shooting, according to reports.

Attorneys with the Exoneration Project picked up his case and dozens of others to seek justice for the wrongly-convicted in Chicago’s Cook County.

Darien Harris was 30 years old when he was finally exonerated. He says the experience was horrific and it’s been a struggle trying to get his life back in order

“I don’t have any financial help,” Harris told the Chicago Tribune. I’m still (treated like) a felon, so I can’t get a good job. It’s hard for me to get into school,” he said. “I’ve been so lost. … I feel like they took a piece of me that is hard for me to get back.”

The lawsuit states Harris’ “whole life was turned upside down without any warning,” and while he was in prison, he was “in constant emotional anguish, never knowing whether the truth would come out.”

“Like countless others, Mr. Harris’ odyssey through a criminal justice system was instigated by a Chicago Police Department that too often devalued the lives of people of color,” read the complaint.


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