Michael Tillman was freed today in Chicago after serving more than 23 years in prison for a murder he has always maintained he didn’t commit. He was convicted in 1986 of killing a 42-year-old woman in Chicago based mainly on a confession that he says was false and given to stop torture by officers working under the supervision of former Chicago Police Department Commander Jon Burge. Even when another man was convicted of the crime based on physical evidence in 1991, Tillman's conviction was upheld based on the confession.
Prosecutors joined with Tillman’s attorney in asking a judge to overturn his conviction today, citing a “forced confession.” Tillman says police officers waterboarded him with 7-Up, punched him in the face and stomach until he vomited blood and put a plastic bag over his head to force him to admit to a crime he didn't commit. Burge, who was a Chicago police officer from 1970 until he was suspended in 1991, is facing federal charges for his alleged role in wrongful conviction cases.
“It felt good, and I’m glad justice finally prevailed,” Tillman said after being released.
False confessions have played a role in 25% of wrongful convictions later overturned through DNA testing. Recording of interrogations can prevent this injustice.
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