Judge Thomas J. Hennelly has attempted to illegally reverse the order of another judge, Thomas V. Gainer, who vacated the conviction of Gerald Reed and ordered a new trial. Gainer vacated Reed’s conviction after overwhelming evidence that his “confession” to a double murder in 1990 was the fruit of horrible torture by police working under Commander Jon Burge, torture so extreme that it broke his thigh bone.
The one hundred people packed into Hennelly’s courtroom Friday February 14, 2020 were stunned when Hennelly announced his decision to send Reed back to Prison to serve a life term. They left seething with anger, and in tears. Armanda Shackelford, Reed’s mother and a leader of the Chicago Alliance, responded in disbelief. “I never would have thought that this judge would do what he did today,” she said.
A Circuit Court judge has no authority to reverse the decision of another circuit court judge. Significantly, Hennelly’s boss as a prosecutor was once none other than Robert Milan, the special prosecutor appointed to Reed’s case. Horrible Hennelly is not only abusing his power, he's doing so to protect the corrupt lawyers who enable police torture. Enough is enough!
Gerald Reed's case
On October 3, 1990, Gerald Reed, 27, was arrested and questioned about a double murder by Detectives Michael Kill and Victor Breska at Area 3 Homicide, members of the notorious “Midnight Crew” of torturer Jon Burge. They beat him and kicked him repeatedly, and broke a metal rod that was in his right thigh along with the surgical screws that held it in place, causing him excruciating pain. The rod had been surgically placed years before to repair his thigh-bone, which had been shattered by a gunshot.
Reed signed a false confession to end the beatings, but that did not stop the torture. For 27 years, Reed has been incarcerated for a crime he did not commit and the extensive damage to his leg has not been properly taken care of. Click here to learn more about his case.
Now is the time for Governor J. B. Pritzker to stand up and sign the papers freeing Gerald Reed from the torture he continues to endure in prison. Sign the petition to demand Pritzker do the right thing and bring Gerald home.
Petition to Demand Governor Pritkzer Pardon All Police Torture Survivors
By the Campaign to Free All Incarcerated Survivors of Police Torture (CFIST), initiated by the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (click here for the list of CFIST endorsers)
Illinois is the only state in the United States that has a Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission (TIRC), created by statute and appointed by the Governor of Illinois, to address a systemic pattern of police torture of mostly Black and Latinx men going back to at least the 1980s. Chicago is the only city in the United States that has, by city ordinance, apologized for this systemic torture and wrongful conviction of men and women. As part of the reparations package to address this grave injustice, public schools in Chicago are required to teach the history of Chicago police torture in 8th and 12th grades.
However, many police torture survivors remain in prison decades later, serving life sentences without the possibility of parole. To date, 120 cases of police torture have been acknowledged by the Governor’s Torture Commission. Some of these men – like Gerald Reed – have had their original convictions vacated due to evidence of torture and still remain in prison while their cases wind their way through the courts – a process that can take 10-15 years! On top of that, the Torture Commission has a backlog of 540 cases. At its current rate, the Commission will take another 50 years to review these cases. How many more wrongfully convicted men and women will die in prison in that time?
Governor Pritzker has the power to right this wrong with the stroke of a pen and use his executive authority to release those who have been wrongfully convicted due to police torture. Governor Pritzker, the people of Illinois call on you to use your power and pardon all police torture survivors now, before it’s too late!