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Isaac Weekly

Other Cook County Drug Exonerations
https://www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/PublishingImages/Cook_County_seal.jpg
On August 19, 2007, 23-year-old Isaac Weekly was in the lobby of a building at the Ida B. Wells public housing development in Chicago, Illinois, when Chicago Police Sgt. Ronald Watts and members of his unit rushed in looking for drugs. Most of the people scattered, but Weekly did not because he was not carrying or dealing drugs.

Nonetheless, Weekly and a few other men were handcuffed and ordered to sit on the floor. Watts and the officers then went up the stairs and returned about 15 minutes later.

Weekly was taken to the police station at 51st Street and Wentworth Avenue, where he thought he was going to be charged with trespassing. But Watts came to him and dumped a canister onto the table in front of Weekly. “These are yours,” Watts declared.

Weekly later said, “I just shut up and didn’t say a word at that point. I knew others who had had run-ins with Watts and who complained and who ended up being retaliated against by Watts.”

Weekly was charged with four counts of manufacturing and delivery of cocaine and heroin. Watts claimed that he saw Weekly on the fourth floor of the building. As he approached, he said, Weekly attempted to throw the canister, which had a false bottom, into a garbage chute. Watts said he got the canister before Weekly could get rid of it. The canister contained 120 baggies of heroin and 21 baggies of crack cocaine.

On November 1, 2007, Weekly pled guilty in Cook County Circuit Court to one count of manufacturing and delivering cocaine. He was sentenced to probation for two years.

In 2012, Watts and fellow officer Kallatt Mohammed were caught on tape stealing money from a man they believed was a drug courier, but who was in fact working as a confidential FBI informant. In 2013, Watts and Mohammed pled guilty in U.S. District Court to taking money from the informant. Mohammed was sentenced to 18 months in prison, and Watts was sentenced to 22 months in prison.

Federal prosecutors said Watts “used his position as a sergeant with the Chicago Police Department to shield his own criminal activity from law enforcement scrutiny. He recruited another CPD officer into his crimes, stealing drug money and extorting protections from the drug dealers who terrorized the community that he (Watts) had sworn to protect.”

In 2006, Ben Baker was convicted twice—once alone and a second time with his wife, Clarissa Glenn, on charges of narcotics possession based on false testimony from Watts. In 2015, Joshua Tepfer, an attorney at the Exoneration Project at the University of Chicago School of Law, filed a petition to vacate Baker’s first conviction, citing the corruption of Watts and his unit. The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office’s Conviction Integrity Unit agreed in January 2016 that Baker’s first conviction should be vacated, and the petition was granted. Later in 2016, a petition filed on behalf of Baker and Glenn also was granted.

In December 2016, Tepfer and attorney Joel Flaxman filed a motion for a new trial on behalf of Lionel White Sr., another defendant who claimed he had been falsely convicted based on the corruption of Watts and his team. “The full known scope of the corrupt, more-than-decade-long criminal enterprise of Sergeant Watts…shows that Sergeant Watts led a tactical team of Chicago police officers that engaged in systematic extortion, bribery, and other related crimes…from as far back as the late 1990s through 2012,” the motion saiid.

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office’s Conviction Integrity Unit agreed that White’s conviction should be vacated and dismissed the charge.

On November 2, 2018, the Cook County State's Attorney's Conviction Integrity Unit dismissed Weekly’s conviction. Weekly subsequently was granted a certificate of innocence so that he could seek compensation from the state of Illinois.

By 2018, more than 50 convictions tainted by Watts and members of his unit had been dismissed.

Weekly filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Chicago in February 2019.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 12/10/2018
Last Updated: 2/20/2019
State:Illinois
County:Cook
Most Serious Crime:Drug Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2007
Convicted:2007
Exonerated:2018
Sentence:Probation
Race:Black
Sex:Male
Age at the date of reported crime:23
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No