Man who spent decades in prison gets $15 million settlement

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CHICAGO (AP) — A federal judge has approved a $15 million settlement for a former suburban Chicago gang member who spent 20 years in prison after being convicted of murder on evidence allegedly fabricated by police.

Rodell Sanders contended Chicago Heights police knew he hadn’t shot to death Philip Atkins in 1993 and seriously wounded Stacy Armstrong, claiming police manipulated evidence to frame him because of his gang ties.

Sanders conviction was overturned in 2011 on his claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. He walked out of jail in July 2014 after a jury in his retrial found him not guilty.

Sanders’ wrongful conviction lawsuit against then-police Chief Sam Mangialardi, several detectives and Chicago Heights alleged they conspired to violate his civil rights.

Mayor David Gonzalez, in a statement Wednesday, said the agreement was reached to protect taxpayers.