While it won’t make up for the many years lost in a New York maximum security prison, the $26 million settlement acknowledges the woeful injustice that was imposed upon two innocent men. When civil rights leader Malcolm X was killed, three men were convicted and sentenced to in 1966. Two of the men denied these charges, while one admitted to his role in the murder. The two defendants maintained their innocence and were, based upon the uncovering of evidence, exonerated of murder charges in 2021.
The men’s cries of innocence largely fell on deaf ears until a former Manhattan District Attorney revisited the case. The wheels of justice starting spinning again after he viewed a Netflix documentary that questioned the “evidence” used to convict the men. Ultimately, his investigation corroborated their innocence. Evidence existed at the time of the conviction that could have freed the men. FBI documents and other pertinent evidence was withheld at the men’s trials. Even the man who was rightly convicted went on record to support the claims of innocence by his co-defendants. The judge who presided over the settlement phase of this case referred to the many “miscarriages of justice” that befell two innocent men.
It is a bittersweet victory for the family of one of the defendants who passed away in 2009. The 84-year-old remaining exonerated party filed a lawsuit against the City of New York for $40 million claiming that his conviction of guilt was due to law enforcement misconduct. Some of them were individually named in the lawsuit. The City and his lawyers reached a settlement of $26 million which will be equally divided among himself and the estate of the deceased. However, after spending 20 years in prison and labeled a murderer for 55 years, the realization is that some things can’t be undone.
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