19 Lawsuits Filed Against City, Corrupt Ex-Sergeant Ronald Watts

Mike Krauser
February 15, 2019 - 1:40 pm

WBBM Newsradio/Mike Krauser


CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Nineteen new lawsuits have been filed against the city in an alleged police corruption spree that put a former CPD sergeant in prison several years ago and has led to more than 60 convictions being overturned and counting.   

Attorney Jon Loevy stood with most of the 19 plaintiffs in his Near West Side law offices, all alleging they were targets of corrupt ex-sergeant Ronald Watts and his crew. 

“One of the most corrupt tactical units in the history of the city of Chicago, and there’s been a lot of scandals in Chicago and a lot of corruption, but this one ranks near the top,” Loevy said. “For more than 10 years this band of tactical officers terrorized the Ida B. Wells housing project, robbing people, shaking people down, demanding protection money,  basically extorting people.” 

And, he said, planting drugs on them and locking them up on bogus charges if they didn’t give him cash.  

Deon Willis is among the Plaintiffs.

“It’s been a mess. He tore my life apart," Willis said. “Every time he’d see me he’d lock me up."

He missed the birth of his daughter, he said. 

Plaintiff Octavia McDonald was pregnant and 17 when, she said, Watts locked her up unjustly. 

“Due to the fact of me being pregnant, you know, it kind of made it hard for my life," she said.

She gave birth in jail.  

Loevy noted that there were 300 citizen complaints, and, he said, all were ignored. And in some cases, Watts was assigned to investigate complaints about himself. 

“This case illustrates what the code of silence is. These officers were stealing, robbing and ruining people’s lives and other officers saw it and nobody did anything about it.  There was a few whistle-blowers who tried to do something about it and their police colleagues made their lives hell and retaliated against them," he said. “This happened under the noses of the city of Chicago, the Chicago Police Department.”

These 19 lawsuits are among dozens involving Watts, who was sentenced to 22 months in federal prison for corruption in 2013.  Fifteen other officers were placed on desk duty and remain there. 

Prosecutors are continuing to review cases. They've decided 10 of the officers aren't credible enough to testify in court. 

“The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office deserves some credit.  They have exonerated more than 60 individuals and have overturned over 80 convictions and have acknowledged there was injustice," Loevy said.