- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 30, 2015

BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) - St. Clair County Board members have approved $900,000 to settle a federal lawsuit that claimed sheriff’s detectives coerced a 17-year-old into giving a false robbery confession in 2013.

Board members on Monday approved the settlement, admitting no county wrongdoing, in Trevon Yates’ case.

The federal lawsuit filed on behalf of Yates, now age 19, claimed the teen begged for his mother, threatened to kill himself, turned over his phone and offered to take a lie-detector test to prove he wasn’t involved. It also said Yates has reduced cognitive abilities.

A felony charge against Yates was dismissed in June 2014 after the East St. Louis teen spent nine months in jail. Deputies arrested and questioned him in August 2013 in the Belleville parking lot robbery of a couple who thought they were meeting someone about buying an iPhone advertised online.

Among those representing Yates was the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Juvenile Justice Center, a nonprofit public interest law firm based at Northwestern University.

“What happened to Trevon Yates is appalling,” said Locke Bowman, the center’s executive director. “In this case, police officers were less interested in solving a crime than they were in charging someone - anyone - with a crime.”

St. Clair County’s attorney, Thomas Ysursa, said officers had no indication Yates had low cognitive ability. Ysursa said the case was dismissed when a psychiatrist found that Yates’ mental impairment meant he couldn’t knowingly waive his Miranda rights.

Insurance would cover about 90 percent of the settlement, Ysursa said.


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