SHREVEPORT (CN) - After spending more than 29 years in solitary confinement on death row for a murder he did not commit, a Louisiana man says he's now dying of cancer that went untreated during those years.
In a complaint filed in the Shreveport, La. Federal Court, Glenn Ford says he was convicted of murder in 1984 on the basis of a single piece of evidence linking him to the crime - a statement attributed to the girlfriend of one of the actual killers.
Ford says although women disavowed the statement during his trial, dismissing it as a "lie" made up by Shreveport, La. detectives, the district attorney continued to press the case against him.
"Once they convicted Ford, the District Attorney's office dropped charges against the actual killers, who were implicated in at least four subsequent murders," the complaint says.
Ford spent the next 29 years, three months and five days in solitary confinement on death row. During that time, he says, prison doctors discovered indicators of cancer in blood, but provided him no cancer treatment.
Then, on March 10, 2014, Ford was exonerated on the basis of what he describes as "secret, still not publicly revealed information." By that time, he was the longest-serving death row inmate in the United States, he says.
But Ford says within months of his release, he was diagnosed with Stage Three lung cancer, which has since progressed to Stage Four. There is no Stage Five.
Ford maintains his arrest, prosecution, conviction, and imprisonment were the product of unconstitutional and unlawful efforts by the defendants, which include the Caddo Parish District Attorney's Office, the former and current district attorney, several detectives and the City of Shreveport's medical examiner, "to use any means necessary to gain a conviction."
Ford was sent to death row for the 1983 murder of Shreveport jewelry store owner Isadore Rozeman, who was found dead inside the jewelry and watch repair shop with a single bullet wound to his head.
Ford often performed yard work for Rozeman, and had seen Rozeman on the day of the murder, so when he heard police wanted to talk to him, he voluntarily went to the police station in the middle of the night to answer their questions , the complaint says.
During the series of interviews that followed, Ford told the detectives that when he had gone to see Rozeman the day of the murder, the jeweler told him that business was slow and therefore, there wasn't any work for him to do.
Ford also mentioned meeting up with and spending time with a person named "O.B.," whose actual identity plaintiff did not want to reveal, the lawsuit says.
Ford told investigators that O.B. asked him to sell a .38 revolver, though he never actually gave Ford the weapon. Ford also said O.B. gave him jewelry and asked him to pawn it. Ford did pawn the jewelry. Receipts for the pawn showed the jewelry was similar to that taken from Rozeman's shop.
Ford says he provided this information to police despite fearing that the people responsible for Rozeman's death would kill him. A detective noted in his report that "it was evident that Ford is truly in fear of the people who committed this offense," the lawsuit says.
After police discovered the pawn receipts in Ford's possession, Ford was arrested for being in possession of stolen items.
Police were on the lookout for two other suspects in the murder, and Ford was released from jail for several hours while he helped the police locate them. One of them was Henry Robinson, who was also known as O.B. ; the other was Henry's brother, Jake Robinson.
Within days of the murder, police received at least two confidential tips that Jake and Henry Robinson were responsible for the Rozeman murder, the lawsuit says.
But after Jake Robinson's girlfriend, Marvella Brown, gave a false testimony that she saw Ford with a gun and a bag of jewelry, Ford was indicted for the murder. The subsequent trial was based entirely on circumstantial evidence, the lawsuit says.
Brown recanted her statement, but despite this and that the Robinson brothers were known drug dealers, "For reasons that have never been revealed, the state dropped the charges against Henry Robinson and Jake Robinson after Ford was convicted. The Robinson brothers remained free and are suspected of killing four additional people after the murder of Mr. Rozeman," the lawsuit says.
Ford said when he was released from prison, the state gave him $20 and sent him on his way. Even after all charges against him were dropped, he received not a dollar more, she says.
Ford maintains the City of Shreveport has a long history of racial troubles, and that the Shreveport Police Department has a notorious history of racially discriminatory law enforcement, the lawsuit says. "The Department at one point even stationed officers at Shreveport's Trailways Bus Terminal with orders to keep black patrons out of the main waiting room and restaurant of the terminal," Ford says.
He also cites a 1987 study conducted by the FBI found that in the case of murder, "those charged with murdering whites were twice as likely to receive a death sentence as were those who killed blacks."
Ford goes on to allege that the last time a white man was executed in the state for killing a black person was in 1752, when Louisiana was still a territory.
He says the decision to place him in solitary confinement was yet another manifestation of this history.
Ford seeks damages for wrongful arrest and conviction, race discrimination, equal protection rights, failure to intervene and civil conspiracy.
He is represented by Mummi Ibrahim of Ibrahim & Associates in New Orleans.Follow @https://twitter.com/sabrinacanfiel2
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