- Associated Press - Thursday, February 11, 2016

CHICAGO (AP) - A Chicago man won a $1 million verdict this week in a lawsuit that accused police of rigging a photo lineup to ensure he would be wrongly identified as an armed robbery suspect.

Jermaine Durdin was 18 when he was charged in the 2010 robbery of several hundred dollars from an ice cream truck in the Lawndale neighborhood on the city’s West Side. He spent nearly two years awaiting trial in the Cook County Jail before he was found not guilty - an experience he said in court this week deeply affected him and left a “stain” on his brain.

His story adds to the cases of alleged police misconduct against black residents that are roiling the city and the Chicago Police Department, which is under a federal civil rights investigation.

The most high-profile cases involve the use of deadly force by officers. Durdin’s does not, but his attorney says that the way Durdin was treated caused him emotional trauma and raises questions about how officers handle routine detective work, like suspect lineups.

The lineup shown to the victim was so suggestive it made it near-impossible for his client not to be chosen, attorney Basileios Foutris said Thursday. Durdin’s lighter complexion meant he was the only one of the five people pictured who remotely resembled a description of the suspect, and he stood out because he was the only one not wearing dark jeans, Foutris said.

“It’s like you’re putting an arrow over his head saying pick this guy,” Foutris said. “You’re supposed to have people in there who look similar in appearance. You’re not supposed to have anybody stand out. It’s common sense.”

A Cook County jury on Wednesday found the city and police officer Catherine Rolewicz responsible. She is the detective who put Durdin in the lineup, according to Foutris. Rolewicz has no listed phone number and could not be reached for comment.

Foutris initially sought an $880,000 settlement, but said the city “didn’t offer a penny.”

As for why Durdin was targeted, Foutris said, he believes detectives searching a mugshot database landed on his client, who has a prior robbery conviction, and thought Durdin matched the description enough to make the case go away. Features that did not match the description - hair color and a large, plainly visible neck tattoo - were concealed in the photo with a hat and a bandage.

The city’s Law Department said it would seek a new trial.

“While we are disappointed in the jury’s decision, we believe it was the result of erroneous jury instructions, as well as other legal errors,” department spokesman Bill McCaffrey said.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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