Darien Harris Sues City Of Chicago, Police Department After Being Convicted From Testimony From Blind Witness

A Chicago man who was convicted of murder, due in part to testimony from a witness who is legally blind, has filed a lawsuit against the city and the police department.

According to The Associated Press, Darien Harris, who was convicted for taking part in a fatal shooting at a gas station back in 2014, was given a prison sentence of 76 years. After serving 12 years, Harris’ murder conviction was overturned by a Cook County judge after finding out that the witness to the murder was discovered to be legally blind. The witness had advanced glaucoma and lied about issues with his eyesight.

In April, according to The Chicago Tribune, Harris filed a federal civil rights lawsuit accusing police officers of fabricating the evidence used against him and coercing witnesses into making false statements.

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

CBS News Chicago reported that Harris’ murder conviction was vacated after he was convicted of killing a man at a South Side BP gas station in Woodlawn on June 7, 2011. The 30-year-old, who was 18 when sentenced, was found guilty in the fatal shooting of Rondell Moore, who was 23 when he was killed. Harris was charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, and aggravated battery with a firearm. Harris has always maintained his innocence, saying he was watching the NBA finals between the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks.

Over four years ago, at the urging of Harris’ family, the conviction integrity unit of Cook County’s State Attorney Kim Foxx took another look at the case. It stated, among other arguments, that the key witness did not disclose to the judge that he was legally blind due to glaucoma. After investigating, prosecutors decided to vacate Harris’ conviction and sentence but decided he must stand trial again.

On Nov. 5, Cook County Judge Diana Kenworthy granted Harris’s request, saying, “So we are going to start over.”

Harris’s conviction was overturned on Dec. 5; prosecutors originally stated they intended to retry him on the charge, but after reviewing the case, they dropped all charges. He was officially released on Dec. 19.

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