CLEVELAND (CN) - A man who served over 18 years in prison for murder says Cleveland police used unreliable witnesses and ignored evidence to convict him.
Anthony Lemons sued the City of Cleveland and Detectives Denise Kovach, Edward Kovacic and Jim Cudo, in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.
Lemons was released on parole in 2012 and was granted a new trial in late 2013.
The complaint says Lemons was arrested in April 1995 for the murder of Eric Sims, who was shot to death in an apartment in 1994.
It says the Police Department's investigation into Lemons began after it received two anonymous tips about an eyewitness who claimed her date shot Sims after a dispute over drugs.
During the investigation, the complaint says, the eyewitness, Jude Adamcik, was shown "a photo array that included Mr. Lemons' photo ... [but] she [was] unable to identify him as the shooter."
Lemons says another witness, a 12-year-old living in the apartment complex, "told the detectives that she saw [two men] walking out of the victim's apartment five to ten seconds after shots were heard. They seemed to be in a hurry. Mr. Lemons, or a person of Mr. Lemons' physical attributes, was never mentioned."
The complaint says the girl's mother confirmed her story.
Lemons says the detectives ignored all evidence pointing towards the two men seen leaving the apartment by several eyewitnesses, and instead focused their investigation on him.
He says he "called and spoke with Detective Cudo ... indicating that he would even voluntarily come in to talk to the police if they so desired ... [because he] knew he had never been to the Cliffview Apartments." (emphasis in original)
After being arrested, Lemons says he was placed in a "loaded and tainted lineup," and was identified by Adamcik as the shooter.
Lemons says Adamcik was only trying to protect the two men seen leaving the apartment following the shooting, as they were her friends.
Lemons was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison after being convicted of murder and attempted murder.
The complaint says he "was incarcerated from April 24, 1995 to December 24, 2012 for a crime he did not commit. The entire time, Mr. Lemons proclaimed his innocence. At times, even when it resulted in him being denied parole. He was not going to admit to a crime he did not commit.
"On March 9, 2009, Mr. Lemons was given a polygraph. He passed every single question asked of him, showing that he had been telling the truth the entire time.
"Mr. Lemons was finally granted parole and released from prison on December 24, 2012.
"On December 13, 2013, Judge Janet Burnside granted Mr. Lemons a new trial, thus vacating his conviction," the complaint says.
Lemons seeks compensatory and punitive damages for intentional misrepresentation and negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
He is represented by David Malik of Chesterland, Ohio.
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