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Allen Jackson

Other Cook County Drug Exonerations
On January 16, 2006, 22-year-old Allen Jackson was standing in a parking lot at the Ida B. Wells public housing development in Chicago, Illinois when Chicago Police Sgt. Ronald Watts and Officer Alvin Jones drove up.

When Jones summoned Jackson to the car, Jackson turned to a friend, Shamika Booker, and handed her $948 in cash from his pocket because he feared that Watts and Jones would steal from him.

The move backfired. Jones saw Jackson hand the money to Booker. Jackson was arrested and charged with possession of narcotics. The officers pocketed the cash.

Prior to trial, Jackson’s defense attorney filed a motion to quash the arrest and suppress the drugs. Booker testified at a hearing on the motion in Cook County Circuit Court that she was talking to Jackson when Watts and Jones walked up. She said that Jackson gave her money, but that Jones ordered her to give it back.

Booker testified that Jackson was not selling drugs and did not have drugs in his possession.

Several officers were listed as being involved in the arrest. Jones and Officer Elsworth Smith Jr. testified that a “concerned citizen” had reported that Jackson was going to pick up narcotics and money at the parking lot. When they arrived, the officers said they saw Jackson holding drugs and the money. Watts testified and denied he was present at the arrest.

Jackson’s attorney, Patrick Boyle, argued, “Frankly, I don’t think (the police) saw what they said they saw…common sense tells us that I don’t think this happened the way the police officers say it happened.”

The judge denied the motion, declaring, “The credibility rests with the officers.”

On September 5, 2006, nine months after his arrest, Jackson pled guilty to possession of narcotics. He was sentenced to one year in prison and was released based on the time he had already spent in jail.

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 badge and 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 protection payments 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 Law School, 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 said.

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

In November 2017, following a re-investigation of numerous other cases involving Watts, the Cook County State's Attorney's conviction integrity unit dismissed 17 convictions involving 15 more defendants, including Jackson and Lionel White Jr., the son of Lionel White Sr.

A defense petition detailing the cases said that after Jackson was released, Watts and Mohammed told him that his false arrest was “straight business.” They said that another man had paid Watts to arrest Jackson.

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

In 2018, Jackson filed a federal civil rights lawsuit seeking compensation from the city of Chicago. He also was granted a certificate of innocence, which resulted in an award of $97,075 in compensation from the state of Illinois.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 11/28/2018
Last Updated: 3/29/2019
Most Serious Crime:Drug Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2006
Sentence:1 year
Age at the date of reported crime:22
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No