More than one hundred African-American men were tortured by former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge or police officers under his command. Some of the people who were tortured have become outspoken advocates for the cause of raising awareness and seeking justice for the survivors and perpetrators. Sadly, some of the victims of torture remain anonymous. This section is a growing collection of information related to particular survivors of Chicago police torture as individuals, but this page will always be incomplete, unable to capture all of the human detail of these people's experiences. There is a very long list of all the documented instances of police torture which names, as far as possible, the person tortured and the police personnel responsible.
Darrell Cannon is one of the most well-known torture survivors who has courageously spoken out about the torture he endured at the hands of Area 2 Detectives and while incarcerated at Tamms Correctional Center, a supermax prison in Illinois.
On November 2, 1983, Cannon alleges he was threatened with a gun, subjected to “Russian” roulette, repeatedly electric shocked on his testicles and penis with a cattle prod, and continuously subjected to racial eptithets by Sergeant John Byrne and Detective Peter Dignan, Burge’s right hand men at Area 2 Police Headquarters . The torture was committed to elicit a confession, and this confession was subsequently used to wrongfully convict Cannon of murder. Cannon subsequently served close to 24 years in prison, 9 years at Tamms, before he was exonerated and released.
Watch Cannon describe his own torture and read his own description of the torture he endured, a document he created within days of his torturous interrogation from a cell at Cook County Jail.
"Madison Hobley was one of 14 African American men sentenced to death based on confessions—alleged or acknowledged—obtained by a group of Chicago police officers later shown to have engaged in systematic torture of suspects in criminal cases.
"Four officers claimed Hobley admitted setting a fire that claimed the lives of his wife, infant son, and five other persons early the morning of January 6, 1987, at an apartment building in the 1100 block of East 82nd Street in Chicago.
"When the fire broke out, Hobley, 26, escaped the flames without shoes and wearing only underwear. He consistently maintained his innocence, alleging that the officers tortured him and—when that failed—fabricated a confession."
Continue reading about Madison Hobley's wrongful conviction at Northwestern University's Center on Wrongful Convictions.
Anthony Holmes is one of the first known torture survivors. On May 30, 1973, former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and Detective John Yucaitis repeatedly electrically shocked Holmes with the electric shock box and suffocated him with plastic bags, while subjecting him to racial epithets and threats. As a result of this torturous interrogation Holmes confessed to a murder he did not commit and was subsequently incarcerated for decades.
Holmes courageously testified against Burge at Burge’s perjury trial in June of 2010 and he was one of five torture survivors the jury heard from before finding that Burge was guilty.
Watch Holmes describe his own torture while testifying at a deposition in June of 2006 and read his testimony from Burge’s sentencing hearing in January of 2011.