Cook County jurors on Tuesday awarded $1 million to a man who was wrongfully held in jail for more than a year. John Collins, a 42-year-old Chicago barber, was arrested in 2006 and spent 385 days in jail due to false charges of aggravated battery to a police office, officials said. After a three-day trial, a jury found the city of Chicago and Chicago police Officer Michael Garza guilty of malicious prosecution.
“I felt like a right in the pool of wrong,” Collins said of his time in jail. “I didn’t want to swim in that pool no more, but I didn’t want to drown either. So I kept fighting.” When officers pulled Collins over in 2006, he’d just left his salon. One officer accused him of kicking and spitting on them, but a jury acquitted Collins and he was released from Cook County in 2007.
“All I know is that I ended up a victim,” he said. Collins said the trauma and distress is still with him. “I was just devastated,” he said. “I was just devastated.” Collins missed the birth of his now 7-year-old son Elwood while in jail, a moment he said he can never get back. Since his release, Collins has worked continuously in his Dolton salon, and noted the verdict brings him a step closer to having his life back. “I’m thankful that someone’s seen justice,” he said.
A spokesman for the city’s Law Department said they are “disappointed” in the verdict in the case and said they plan to “explore all available options including an appeal.”
article by Natalie Martinez via nbcchicago.com