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Charles Slaughter

Sumary of the Watts scandal
On April 4, 2011, 42-year-old Charles Slaughter was riding in a car driven by a friend when the car was pulled over by Chicago police Sgt. Ronald Watts and fellow officer Alvin Jones.

“Watts asked if we had any money for him,” Slaughter later recalled. “We both told him no.”

The officers ordered the men out of the car and searched them. Watts found $527 in Slaughter’s wallet. When Watts confronted Slaughter, Slaughter said, “I told him the money was mine that I was saving to try to move out of my apartment.”

Watts and Jones took Slaughter and his friend to the police station. Slaughter was charged with possession of seven baggies of heroin that the officers falsely claimed Slaughter dropped while he was being searched. Slaughter’s friend was released without being charged.

On May 18, 2011, Slaughter pled guilty in Cook County Circuit Court to possession of narcotics. He was sentenced to one year in prison.

In 2012, Watts and a 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.”

The Chicago police department sought to fire Jones, but he retired before he could be fired.

The Watts scandal had been triggered following the conviction of Ben Baker in 2006. He 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.

Beginning in December 2016, Tepfer and attorney Joel Flaxman filed motions for new trials on behalf of dozens of men and women who claimed they were 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,” their motions said.

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office’s Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) began investigating the cases and agreed that the convictions should be vacated and dismissed. By the end of 2021, more than 90 convictions tainted by Watts and members of his unit had been dismissed.

On February 1, 2022, following an investigation by the CIU, the convictions of 19 others framed by Watts and his fellow officers were vacated and the charges were dismissed. In April 2022, more than 40 additional convictions resulting from the corrupt actions of Watts and his crew were vacated and dismissed, bringing the total number of convictions vacated to more than 200.

On October 3, 2022, Slaughter’s conviction and the convictions of seven others were vacated and the charges were dismissed. Slaughter was subsequently granted a certificate of innocence. He filed a federal lawsuit in January 2023. In August 2023, Slaughter was awarded $40,000 in state compensation.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 10/11/2022
Last Updated: 12/13/2023
Most Serious Crime:Drug Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2011
Sentence:1 year
Age at the date of reported crime:42
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No