Chicago Man Sues City, Police Department After Being Convicted Based On Testimony From Blind Witness

Darien Harris

Darien Harris, a Chicago man whose murder conviction was overturned after serving 12 years in prison, has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city and the police department.

The lawsuit comes after a Cook County judge vacated Harris’s conviction upon discovering that a key witness, who testified against him, was legally blind.

Harris was convicted in connection with a fatal shooting at a gas station in 2014 and was sentenced to 76 years in prison.

However, his conviction was overturned after it was revealed that the witness who testified against him had advanced glaucoma and had lied about his eyesight issues.

In his lawsuit, Harris accuses police officers of fabricating evidence and coercing witnesses into making false statements.

He expressed the difficulties he faced upon his release, including challenges in finding employment and pursuing education opportunities due to his felony record.

The conviction integrity unit of Cook County’s State Attorney Kim Foxx reviewed Harris’s case at the urging of his family and found that the key witness had failed to disclose his legal blindness to the judge during the trial.

As a result, prosecutors decided to vacate Harris’s conviction and sentence, but opted to retry him on the charges.

However, after further review, prosecutors dropped all charges against Harris, leading to his official release on December 19.

Cook County Judge Diana Kenworthy granted Harris’s request for a new trial, stating, “So we are going to start over.”

Harris has consistently maintained his innocence, claiming that he was watching an NBA finals game at the time of the shooting.

Now, he seeks justice through his civil rights lawsuit against the city and the police department for their role in his wrongful conviction and imprisonment.