Freed Man Wants NYC to Pay for His Jail Time

     BROOKLYN (CN) — A man who spent nearly nine years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit sued New York City, police officers and prosecutors for $30 million.
     Carlos Davis’ conviction for second-degree criminal possession of a weapon was vacated in April 2015 as part of Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson’s sweeping program to investigate and correct wrongful convictions against mostly black or Hispanic convicts after he took office in the city’s largest borough in 2014.
     Twenty people, including Davis, have been cleared of criminal charges through Thompson’s amnesty efforts. They’re mostly black or Latino, and only one of them is a woman.
     The program was Thompson’s campaign platform when he took the office. He’s the first black man to take the helm as Brooklyn’s top legal eagle.
     “One of the first things DA Thompson did … was to create perhaps the largest Conviction Review Unit (CRU) in the country, which is tasked with looking into old, questionable conviction[s],” the DA’s website touts. “The structure and unprecedented work of the unit — which upheld most cases but concluded that 20 people had to be exonerated — is now considered a national model.”
     Some of the exonerated spent more than two decades in prison for crimes they didn’t commit before finally being released.
     Davis wasn’t the first, and was actually in the middle of the throng of inmates let loose by the DA’s office. Now, he wants $30 million for the eight and a half years he spent in prison for the murder he never committed.
     He sues for his 1991 conviction that was the product of what he calls “perjured testimony [and] fabricated evidence” that was later revealed by the CRU.
     The unit looked into his case in 2013 as part of a series of cases involving “disgraced” former detective Louis Scarcella, one of the officers often at the heart of similar bogus convictions, according to Davis’ lawsuit, filed Friday in Eastern New York Federal Court.
     The Queens man was 18 years old on a Friday night in 1988 and about to become a new father when he was in East New York and a drive-by shooting broke out, brought on by gunmen with a .38 caliber.
     Everyone scattered, and Davis ran back to his family’s apartment, his lawsuit states. Norris Williams, however, was shot and killed.
     Police then showed up to the apartment where Davis lived with his mother and arrested him, then charged him with a felony for second-degree murder. Just a month later, he was indicted.
     He claims that the whole case “rested entirely on eyewitness testimony” and not on actual facts.
     He also says that the three witnesses to testify against him to get prosecutors a conviction later recanted their stories.
     Defendant Officer Jeffrey I. Ginsberg even threatened those who testified against Davis with prosecution if they didn’t “stick to their story” to pin him with the murder, according to Davis’ 32-page complaint.
     Ultimately, the jury found Davis not guilty by reason of justification to the second-degree murder charge, but found him guilty of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
     Davis was released from prison in March 1997, after which he was placed on parole and post-released supervision.
     “Mr. Davis, a married father of three children, a union worker, and an upstanding citizen who has had no interaction with the criminal justice system since his release nearly 20 years ago, is entitled to damages for the devastating harm caused by his wrongful conviction and deprivation of liberty,” the lawsuit states.
     Davis wants $20 million in compensatory damages for civil rights violations, and $10 million for punitive damages. He is represented by David B. Sanies in Manhattan.
     The lawsuit names as defendants New York City, Ginsberg, Lonnie W. Owens, Robert Williams, and 20 John and Jane Does, who Davis says are current or former employees of the New York City Police Department and/or the Kings County District Attorney’s Office.

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