Lawsuit: Man says former ESL officer beat him to get rape confession

News-DemocratFebruary 4, 2014 

A man exonerated of rape charges filed a federal lawsuit alleging a former East St. Louis detective beat him until he falsely confessed to the crime.

Marlon M. Miller, 21, of East St. Louis, was arrested Feb. 18 in connection with the robbery and rape of a 32-year-old East St. Louis woman as she left a MetroLink train at the Emerson Park station on Jan. 29, 2013.

The lawsuit alleges former East St. Louis Detective Orlando Ward coerced a confession from Miller by hitting him out of view of the police department's recording devices. Miller seeks more than $50,000 from Ward and $100,000 from the city of East St. Louis.

Neither Ward nor his attorney could be reached for comment Tuesday.

Miller was detained in jail from Feb. 20 until June 4 when the results of a DNA test cleared him of the charges. The lawsuit was filed in federal court Jan. 30.

The DNA results led to the arrest of Dominic R. Hood, 19, of East St. Louis. Hood faces six counts of criminal sexual assault, one count of aggravated sexual assault, and one count of armed robbery with a firearm in connection with the attack on the woman who left the MetroLink station.

East St. Louis Police Chief Michael Floore previously denied Miller's allegations saying inmates are continuously videotaped while in custody. Floore could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Miller's attorney, Jarrod Beasley with the Kuehn Law Firm in Belleville, said, "East St. Louis' response that coercion is impossible because the confession was videotaped is preposterous."

"The idea that the interrogating officer would coerce a confession out of Mr. Miller in an area he knows is wired for sound and video defies logic. We should remember, the officers know where and when they are being recorded ... and where they are not," Miller said.

In November, Ward pleaded guilty to two federal counts of cocaine-related drug charges and faces up to nine years in prison. Ward resigned from the East St. Louis Police Department in May.

During the drug case, the U.S. Attorney's Office described Ward as a corrupt cop who was paid $5,000 a month to provide information and police protection as part of a drug conspiracy.

"The investigating officer (Ward) has been convicted of a felony while entrusted by the community with upholding the law. He wasn't upholding the law, he was flaunting it, he was abusing it, and he was breaking it. Thankfully, because of his conviction, he can never carry a badge or a gun again," Beasley said. "But what of the victims of his corruption? What of the victims of his abuse of power? What of the injuries he inflicted during his reign? What of the innocent people he forced to confess to crimes they did not commit? In short, what of Marlon Miller."

"The police are trained to lie to the accused," Beasley added. "So, modern interrogation is more psychologically oriented. We should remember the blood of the accused is not the only hallmark of an unconstitutional inquisition. Put simply, innocent people do not confess to crimes without coercion. A fact we plan to demonstrate in this case."

Hood remains detained at the St. Clair County Jail. He was on probation for aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, a felony, when he allegedly raped and robbed the East St. Louis woman.

Miller faces two felony charges stemming from an arrest on Aug. 29. Miller was charged with aggravated battery and aggravated unlawful use of a firearm, according to St. Clair County records.

Contact reporter Daniel Kelley at dkelley@bnd.com or 618-239-2501.

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