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Terrance Thompson

Other Chicago 'No Crime' Exonerations
On September 21, 2002, Terrance Thompson was standing in front of his west side Chicago home when three officers from the Chicago Police Department’s Special Operations Section (SOS) pulled up and confronted him.  The people standing near Thompson fled as the officers approached.  After frisking Thompson, the officers asked him where the bystanders had gone.  When Thompson said that he didn’t know, Officer Carl Suchocki emerged from a gangway with a gun, saying, “Look what I got.  Where’s the drug house?”  Thompson was arrested and charged with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon.

At a bench trial, on November 4, 2003, Thompson was convicted of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon and sentenced to eight years in prison.  On March 31, 2005, the Illinois Appellate Court reversed Thompson’s conviction on a jury-selection issue and ordered a new trial.

While Thompson’s retrial was pending, the officers who had testified against him were indicted by a federal grand jury for engaging in a pattern of conduct identical to that which Thompson alleged — planting evidence on defendants, and testifying falsely at trial. Based on information in the federal indictment, prosecutors dismissed the charges against Thompson on December 5, 2006. In 2007, the SOS was dismantled after numerous officers were charged in federal indictments with falsifying and planting evidence and taking part in kidnappings, robberies, and home invasions.

Thompson sued the City of Chicago and SOS police officers Carl Suchocki, Tim McDermott, and John Burzinski.  He sought damages for his wrongful arrest and prosecution.  On November 10, 2009, a federal jury awarded Thompson $15,000 in damages on one claim, a small fraction of the $3 million he sought, and rejected the rest of his claims.
Thompson's lawyers appealed trial court rulings that barred him from presentencing testimony from other victims of SOS misconduct and the guilty-plea testimony of the SOS officers who were convicted in the corruption investigation. In July 2013, the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held that the trial court had erroneously barred the evidence, vacated the jury's verdict (except for the $15,000 award), and sent case back for another trial on the remaining claims. In 2014, the lawsuit was settled for $400,000.
By then, however, Thompson was back in prison. He was convicted in 2013 of armed robbery and sentenced to 25 years in prison.

— Rob Warden

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Posting Date:  Before June 2012
Last Updated: 5/12/2020
Most Serious Crime:Weapon Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2002
Sentence:8 years
Age at the date of reported crime:36
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No