In 2016, Ben Baker overturned his 2006 conviction for possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver after the Exoneration Project obtained exculpatory FBI documents through the Freedom of Information Act. The materials prove that Bakers’ allegations against a corrupt Chicago Police tactical team were corroborated by investigative materials that were available at the time of his trial but were hidden from his attorneys and the public.
Quoting sworn statements from whistleblowing Chicago police officers, federal prosecutors, FBI Special Agents, and many citizen victims, Baker proved that now-disgraced officer Sergeant Watts headed a Second District Tactical Team whose “crew” engaged in nothing short of a decade-long criminal conspiracy of extorting drug dealers, stealing narcotics, planting evidence, and falsifying charges against those who wouldn’t cooperate. Although Watts was eventually caught on a wiretap, convicted, and federally imprisoned for his misconduct, it is clear that the police corruption was allowed to continue for the previous decade while Baker sat behind bars, wrongfully convicted.
Several of the officers working under Watts and alleged to be part of the corruption remain Chicago police officers today. This includes Officer Robert Gonzalez, who was on the scene of three different police shootings of young black men over a two-year period—including both the 2014 videotaped shooting of Robert Johnson by Officer George Hernandez, as well as the 2013 fatal shooting of 17-year-old Christian Green. Officer Gonzalez personally discharged 11 rounds in the Green shooting, including the fatal one. Paramedics originally reported that Green was shot in the chest, but the medical examiner later confirmed Green was killed by a bullet to his back.