Exonerated Chicago Man Sues City After Key Eyewitness in Murder Case Against Him Is Revealed to Be Blind

The Exonerated Project

In 2014, Darien Harris was convicted of the 2011 fatal shooting of 23-year-old Rondell Moore in Chicago based on the testimony of a witness who was later found to have been declared legally blind several years earlier. Now a free man, Harris is suing.

A Chicago man who was exonerated in December after being found guilty of murder a decade earlier has now sued the city after investigators found evidence that key testimony came from an eyewitness who was legally blind, according to reports.

In 2014, Darien Harris was convicted of the 2011 fatal shooting of 23-year-old Rondell Moore at a South Side gas station.

At the time of his arrest, Harris was 18. He was charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and aggravated battery with a firearm, The Chicago Tribune reported.

Harris was 12 years into a 76-year prison sentence when he was freed in December after The Exoneration Project showed that the eyewitness who delivered key testimony in the case had advanced glaucoma and lied about his eyesight issues, the Associated Press reported.

Harris is now suing the city, alleging police fabricated evidence and coerced witnesses into making false statements, the Tribune reported. Harris, now 31, told the Tribune that he is still struggling to put his life back together.

“I don’t have any financial help. I’m still (treated like) a felon, so I can’t get a good job. It’s hard for me to get into school,” he told the paper. “I’ve been so lost… I feel like they took a piece of me that is hard for me to get back.”

During the trial, the legally blind eyewitness picked Harris out of a police lineup and identified him in court, the AP reported.

The eyewitness testified that he was riding his motorized scooter near the gas station when he heard gunshots and saw the shooter aiming a handgun who also bumped into him, the Associated Press reported. During the trial, the eyewitness was asked by Harris’ attorney during cross examination if his diabetes affected his vision, and he said yes, but he denied he had vision problems, the AP reported.

The lawsuit obtained by Inside Edition Digital says that the man's doctor had listed him as legally blind nine years before the shooting.

Evidence in Harris' defense was significant. A gas station attendant testified that he was not the shooter, and the alleged getaway drive involved in the incident who testified during Harris' trial recanted, saying his identification of Harris was incorrect and that police coerced him into falsely identifying Harris as the shooter. The man identified as the getaway driver has since died, the lawsuit obtained by Inside Edition Digital says.

Police detectives denied at the 2014 trial that they pressured the man to identify Harris, the Tribune reported.

Harris’ lawyers have said that the actual gunman in the 2011 shooting was a teenager who was killed in a separate shooting several months later. The gas station employee who testified in defense of Harris also identified that teen and not Harris as the shooter, the Tribune reported.

Harris is now seeking compensation from the city of Chicago and several Chicago Police officers involved in the case. 

A spokesperson for Chicago said in a statement that the City does not comment on ongoing litigation. 

Inside Edition Digital has reached out to the Chicago Police Dept. for comment on and has not heard back.

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