Illinois Man Wrongfully Convicted In '93 Murder Seeks Police Accountability

Sep 13, 2018

The Illinois Supreme Court heard arguments Thursday from a man trying to sue the police for wrongfully convicting him.     

Beaman spent 13 years in prison for the 1993 murder of Illinois State University student Jennifer Lockmiller. He’s gotten a certificate of actual innocence, but lower courts have tossed his attempts to hold the police accountable.

“This case is bigger than me…it’s about what kind of state we want to be –and whether we want to tolerate official misconduct," he said.

Beaman is accusing a detective of withholding another suspect’s polygraph test from evidence. One of Beaman’s lawyers, David Shapiro, said that could have helped his client prove his innocence. “No prosecutor could have indicted Alan if the police had conducted a fair and honest investigation," Shapiro said during the oral arguments. 

Police say they were doing their jobs, and that the evidence pointed to Beaman. They say the Supreme Court should not open the door to more lawsuits against law enforcement.

Lower courts sided with the officers and dismissed the lawsuit

Thomas DiCianni, the lawyer representing the town of Normal and the former officers, told the court one shouldn’t be able to sue officers for simply doing their jobs.

“That’s never been the law here—this court and all the courts in Illinois have never extended it that far and they shouldn’t. And the reason, your honor, I would say, it’s horrible public policy," DiCianni said.

Beaman and his attorneys say a win before the Supreme Court could help prevent officer misconduct and future wrongful convictions. There’s no timeline for when the justices might issue a decision in the case.