Being wrongfully convicted of a crime is a situation that we pray none of you will ever have to experience in life, yet it’s sadly been a subject covered here many, many times before.
The latest comes by way of Grant Williams, a former associate of iconic rap collective Wu-Tang Clan, that spent 23 years in prison over a 1996 murder that he was later found to be innocent of committing. Thankfully, the city of New York has decided to give him an apology in the form of a $7 million settlement.
Williams’ case was truly an unfair one to begin with, from the eyewitness who said he wasn’t the gunman that police hid from prosecutors until after his indictment, to the lack of any physical, forensic and/or digital evidence connecting him to the fatal shooting of Shdell Lewis outside of a public housing complex in Staten Island. Williams served decades behind bars before his parol was finally approved in 2019 at the age of 51. He started his lawsuit with the city by filing a notice of claim, which eventually led to his exoneration last July. The city chose to settle his claim without court action, which Williams’ lawyer, Irving Cohen, called “the right thing” given the details of his case.
Read more below on what initially led to the wrongful conviction of Grant Williams, via AP News:
“The case against Williams had rested largely on the testimony of a couple of eyewitnesses. One was a police officer who chased the gunman — and initially gave a description that didn’t match Williams.
Prosecutors at his trial also sought to suggest a connection between Williams and a baseball cap that the shooter dropped at the scene, though the hat was never tested for DNA that could have pointed to its wearer. It was emblazoned with the logo of Wu-Tang Clan. Williams had worked at the multiplatinum-selling rap group’s Staten Island studio, but his lawyer notes that there was no telling how many hometown fans might have had Wu-Tang Clan hats at the time.
No physical, forensic or digital evidence tied Williams to the crime, and some witnesses testified that he wasn’t the gunman.”
Even with facing multiple unsuccessful appeals before finally getting noticed by the office of Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon, Williams kept hope alive and even told fellow inmates that one day they’d be reading about his exoneration in the news.
On top of the $7 million settlement, Grant Williams also settled a separate claim with New York state for $5 million. Although no amount can give back the 23 years he lost behind bars, at least he can hopefully do some good in the world with his new status as a 51-year-old multimillionaire.
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