Another Burge Torture Survivor Will Finally Get His Day in Court
On Friday, August 20, 2021, the Illinois Appellate Court ruled in Johnny Plummer’s favor granting him a hearing so that he can present newly discovered evidence in support of his allegations that he was tortured at Area 3 Police Headquarters by detectives working under the supervision of the notorious former Commander Jon Burge and that these detectives withheld evidence exonerating him of this murder.
In August of 1991, Johnny, aged 15, was transported to Area 3 Police Headquarters, and questioned about the murder of Michael Engram. Johnny has consistently alleged he was tortured into confessing to this murder by Detectives Michael Kill and Kenneth Boudreau when they hit him with a flashlight; punched him in the face; pulled his hair; handcuffed him to a radiator and ring in the wall; and threatened he would be raped in prison. After he was tortured and interrogated for 39 hours, he agreed to sign a statement because he was scared, tired, and wanted the torture and interrogation to end.
In 1995, the chief piece of evidence used to convict him of this murder was his coerced confession.
In 2016, Johnny filed a successive post-conviction petition. In support of his claims, he attached evidence demonstrating that 72 people have accused Kill and Boudreau of using torture and abuse to extract their confessions: 2o of whom have been exonerated or acquitted of the crimes they confessed to; 8 were granted reparations from the City of Chicago; and scores of others had their allegations of coercion deemed credible by the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission (TIRC), judicial decisions, and prior findings by the Office of Professional Standards.
The Illinois Appellate Court, citing a “multitude of evidence” and “abundance of exhibits,” noted that the “trial court found that there was no question that Detectives Kill and Boudreau engaged in a pattern and practice of abuse.” The Appellate Court also found that Johnny presented “evidence of a systematic pattern of similar abuse by Detectives Kill and Boudreau . . . The alleged pattern of abuse could be used to impeach Detective Kill’s credibility and bolster defendant’s credibility. The proposed evidence places such a weight on the scales of justice that it significantly undercuts this court’s confidence in the guilty verdict. Thus, we find that this evidence is so conclusive in nature, that if these reports were allowed at defendant’s motion to suppress, it would have likely changed the outcome on retrial”.
The Court also found that Johnny presented sufficient evidence demonstrating that Detectives Kill and Boudreau withheld exculpatory evidence demonstrating that there were alternative suspects who may have committed the murder. If this evidence was presented at his trial, it could have changed the result.
There was no physical evidence linking Johnny to this crime, and his conviction was predicated upon his alleged coerced confession and two tentative eyewitnesses, one of whom did not see the shooting and the other who cannot reliably claim Johnny committed the murder.
This win in the Appellate Court is a crucial step for Johnny in securing a modicum of justice in his case. We are hopeful that this decision will help Johnny and other police torture survivors interrogated at Area 3 Police Headquarters who have had less success securing their dates in court despite newly discovered evidence in support of their allegations of torture and coercion.
To read the full decision you can find it here.
It is the fruit of a collective effort by countless people including, Johnny; his mother Jeanette Plummer, who has been a tireless advocate on his behalf; lawyers and legal workers at the People’s Law Office and Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center who represented Johnny in the trial court and on appeal (Joey Mogul argued the case in the appellate and trial courts and filed the petition in trial court; Megha Ram authored the appellate briefs), attorneys at Edelson P.C. (Daniel J. Schneider) and Mayer Brown authored amicus briefs, as well as several organizers and organizations who have supported Johnny, the reparations campaign for Burge torture justice survivors and the on-going efforts for justice for all police torture survivors.
Organizations who supported Johnny’s appeal include: The Chicago Torture Justice Center, Chicago Torture Justice Memorials, Mamas Activating Movements for Abolition and Solidarity (MAMAS), South Siders Organized for Unity and Liberation (“SOUL”), Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (CAARPR), The NAACP – Westside Branch, Black Lives Matter Chicago, Chicago Urban League, Chicago Community Bond Fund, Westside Justice Center, Judicial Accountability Project, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council (BPNC), American Friends Service Committee Chicago, She Votes Illinois.