Spencer Ackerman in Chicago
19 February 2015
Shackled by his wrist to the wall and by his ankle to the floor, Lathierial Boyd waited for the detective to return to the Chicago police station. In what he considered a sign he had nothing to hide, the 24-year-old Boyd had given the white detective permission to search his swank loft. It would be clear, he thought, that Boyd was no murderer.
Yes, Boyd had sold drugs when he was younger. But he had turned a corner with his life, and the contents of his briefcase, which Boyd had also handed over, could prove where his money came from. His business papers were in order: contracts for his real-estate business, tax documents, the forgettable dealings of a successful man – hardly what a killer might carry. As soon as Detective Richard Zuley came back, Boyd thought, he’d be free.
A quarter-century later, Boyd remembered Zuley’s words when the detective returned from his well-heeled home: “No ni**er is supposed to live like this.”
Thanks to the police work of Dick Zuley, whom Boyd describes as “evil”, an innocent man was found guilty of murder. The evidence connecting Boyd to the shooting of two men was non-existent: a suspicious piece of paper, eyewitnesses ruling him out from the scene, evidence ignored.
The detective and the convicted businessman would see each other again: at a 2004 court hearing, Zuley described himself as “on a leave of absence” from the Chicago police department, “assigned to the Joint Task Force at Guantánamo”.
And then, in 2013, after Boyd lived half his life in prison, the state of Illinois exonerated him, admitting that he should never have been prosecuted in the first place.
Chicago has had serious problems with police: