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Report: Man Made Up Parts of Beating and Burning Story

November 12, 1995

FORD HEIGHTS, Ill. (AP) _ A man was lying when he claimed two black police officers abandoned his white friend in a tough neighborhood minutes before the friend was beaten and burned to death, a newspaper reported Saturday.

Cecil McCool and Richard Will were in the neighborhood to buy crack cocaine and did not ask police for a ride, McCool’s brother, Don, told the Daily Southtown. Don McCool said his brother admitted the lies when confronted.

``I thought there was something wrong from the outset,″ Don McCool said. ``I told him not to lie to anyone because he would get caught.″

Cecil McCool failed a lie-detector test Wednesday and admitted to investigators that he had made up parts of the story, authorities told the Southtown. The newspaper did not specify which parts McCool admitted making up.

McCool, 32, was driving Will’s car Oct. 18 when they were stopped in a gang-infested neighborhood because they were going the wrong way down an alley. McCool claimed they were hassled by the two officers because he and Will were white.

Police said the two were trying to buy crack. McCool was arrested on a warrant from Colorado charging him with failing to pay child support, and police had the car towed because Will’s license had expired.

McCool had said that Will, who was white, then begged the two officers for a ride to the police station three blocks away, but they left him on his own after midnight.

A group of teen-agers attacked Will and set him on fire 15 minutes after police left with McCool.

Police said they had directed Will, a 32-year-old horse track worker, to a pay phone and insisted he was killed as he tried to buy drugs.

``I knew (McCool) was lying all along,″ Ford Heights Police Chief Jack Davis said. ``Mr. Will got himself killed. We didn’t do anything wrong.″

Family members said McCool made up the story because he was ashamed about being caught trying to buy crack. They told the Southtown that problems with drugs and alcohol have cost McCool several jobs and a marriage.

William Braverman, an attorney hired by the Will family to seek restitution from Ford Heights for the slaying, said the case could be hampered by the revelation that McCool lied.

``Now I have to see if we have an actionable case,″ Braverman said. ``I won’t be able to use McCool as a witness. But the bottom line is the police shouldn’t have left Mr. Will out there if they thought he was intoxicated.″

Two teen-agers have been charged with killing Will. Three other juveniles were released for lack of evidence.

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