3 Black Men Awarded $18 Million after wrongful conviction over 39 years ago
Three black men wrongly imprisoned from Cleveland have been awarded a settlement for $18 million after their wrongful conviction nearly 45 years.
In 1975 three men; Rickey Jackson,63, Wiley Bridgeman, 65, and Kwame Ajamu, 62 in connection to a robbery and murder case
Jackson, Bridgeman, and his brother Ajamu, formerly known as Ronnie Bridgeman, were 18, 20, 17 years of age respectively when they were accused and convicted for the deadly robbery of Harold Franks.
They were convicted based solely on a testimony of a 12-year old boy, which eventually turned out to be false as the boy has since admitted that he was coerced by Cleveland police to provide wrongful testimony during the trial.
The three men were all exonerated and freed in 2014 after serving a collective of over 100 years.
“For 45 years, our clients never gave up hope that someday their nightmare would be over,” said their attorney, Terry Gilbert. “That time has come with this final resolution providing some measure of justice and closure. But the physical and emotional trauma our clients were forced to endure is an example of the deep flaws of a racist criminal legal system focused on results rather than truth and justice.”
The three have reached an $18 million settlement following a lawsuit against the city of Cleveland for police misconduct, falsifying evidence, and coercing a witness. It is reportedly the largest settlement ever made in the history of the state of Ohio.
According to Friedman and Gilbert, the law firm representing the two brothers, the settlement was the largest in the state’s history awarded over police misconduct.
“Money cannot buy freedom and money certainly does not make innocence,” Ajamu said after accepting the settlement.
According to reports the eyewitness, in 2014 Edward Vernon who was only 12 years old at the time claims that city detectives pressured him to lie on the witness stand. Vernon said the police threatened to jail his parents and that police manipulated him, according to a Cleveland.com report.
Under the settlement, all three men will receive payments through April 2023 and federal lawsuits filed by all three men will be dropped.