BELLEVILLE, Ill. (KMOV.com) – A federal lawsuit filed against the St. Clair County said the Sheriff’s Department forced a teenager with a mental disability to fabricate a confession.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court by several Chicago lawyers including groups at Northwestern University's Law School. The suit named the county and seven sheriff department workers as defendants, including one lieutenant and one sergeant. According to the suit, all of them took part in coercing 17-year-old Trevon Yates to lie and confess to an armed robbery, even though no evidence appeared to link him to the incident.
“When you look at the videotape of this interrogation, a lot of things become troubling,” said Chicago attorney Laura Nirider.
According to a psychologist, Yates has the mental abilities of a 9-year-old.The suit also alleges that investigators repeatedly denied Yates his rights.
“You see the 17-year-old reduced to tears, begging for his mama 35 times. Officers disregard that and spoon feed him details,” said Nirider of the video tape.
Yates spent more than nine months in jail until the State’s Attorney Office watched the video. State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly said given Yates’ mental condition, his confession was no good. There was no evidence to prosecute and the charges were dropped.
St. Clair County RIck Watson chose not to comment on the story.