A jury on Friday awarded a Chicago man more than $25 million for a wrongful conviction who served 22 years in prison before being freed in 2016.
Eddie Bolden was convicted for two 1994 murders that police had alleged were a drug deal gone wrong, but the lawsuit alleged detectives zeroed in on him as a suspect and ignored witnesses who said he was inside a restaurant during the murders.
“This verdict is a total and complete vindication of Eddie Bolden,” his lead attorney Ronald S. Safer said in a statement on Friday.
Bolden’s compensatory damages are to be paid to him by the city. Jurors also ordered the two surviving police detectives in the case to pay $100,000 in punitive damages to Bolden.
On January 29, 1994, Irving Clayton and Derrick Frazier were found shot to death in a burning car. Some witnesses claimed that Bolden was inside a fish restaurant at the time of the two victims’ shootings. But the brother of one of the victims, who was also wounded in the shooting, identified Bolden in a lineup as the shooter.
According to the attorneys for the city and detectives investigating the case alleged Bolden was connected to a gang member involved with one of the witnesses. Bolden was convicted and sentenced to life in prison, but he long maintained his innocence.
In 2014, an Illinois appellate judge ruled Bolden had made “a substantial showing” that his trial lawyer had been ineffective by not calling the witnesses who saw him inside the restaurant. A judge initially ordered a new trial, but in 2016, the Cook County state’s attorney’s office dropped the case, and Bolden walked free.
“He spent 22 years, two months, two weeks in prison knowing he was innocent,” Safer said.