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Central Park Five’s legal battle officially over as federal judge signs off on $41 million wrongful conviction settlement Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/central-park-legal-battle-officially-article-1.1929270#ixzz3CxGFXy3U


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9/10/2014
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NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
 
The Central Park Five, from left to right,  Korey Wise, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, and Yusef Salaam have finished their legal battle with the city.D Dipasupil/Getty ImagesThe Central Park Five, from left to right, Korey Wise, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, and Yusef Salaam have finished their legal battle with the city.

The Central Park Five case is officially closed.

A federal court judge on Friday signed off on the wrongfully-convicted quintet’s $41 million settlement with the city, court records show.

The deal “is an act of justice for those five men that is long overdue,” Mayor de Blasio said in a statement after the filing.

“We can finally put this case behind us, and these five men and their families can begin to heal these wounds and move forward.”

Defendants Michael Briscoe, Steve Lopez, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson and Yusef Salaam are seen in court. McCray, Richardson, Salaam and two others were wrongfully convicted and served time in the 1989 rape of a jogger in Central Park.jim estrinDefendants Michael Briscoe, Steve Lopez, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson and Yusef Salaam are seen in court. McCray, Richardson, Salaam and two others were wrongfully convicted and served time in the 1989 rape of a jogger in Central Park.

But some of those wounds are still raw, as city officials and lawyers for the five still have opposing views about what happened.

The five black and Latino men were teens when they were convicted and jailed 24 years ago for a brutal “wilding” attack on Central Park jogger Trisha Meili that shocked the city.

The men, who later said they’d been coerced into confessing, had all served their sentences when career criminal Matias Reyes confessed to the crime.

His story was backed up by DNA evidence, and a judge vacated their convictions with the blessing of the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.

In his statement, the mayor said, “The city had a moral obligation to right this injustice — which is why, from day one, I vowed to settle the case.”

The city, however, doesn’t admit to any wrongdoing in the court filing.

While agreeing what happened to the five was an “injustice,” the city’s top lawyer, Zachary Carter, said the deal “should not be construed as an acknowledgment that the convictions of these five plaintiffs were the result of law enforcement misconduct.”

“On the contrary, our review of the record suggests that both the investigating detectives and Assistant District Attorneys involved in the case acted reasonably, given the circumstances with which they were confronted on April 19, 1989, and thereafter,” he said.

Manhattan D.A. Cyrus Vance Jr. said that “after more than a decade in which numerous parties have investigated and litigated the case, there has been no finding of wrongdoing or unprofessional behavior by any of the prosecutors involved.”

But a lawyer for the group, Myron Beldock, said, “We agree the case was an injustice, and would strongly disagree that there was no misconduct. There was significant evidence police coerced confessions of these children, and that law-enforcement and prosecutors withheld evidence that could have been helpful.”

The five filed a $250 million lawsuit against the city in 2003, which was fiercely contested by the Bloomberg administration.

Under the deal approved by Magistrate Judge Ronald Ellis on Friday, Antron McCray, Raymond Santana, Yusef Salaam and Kevin Richardson will get $7.125 million for their years in prison, while Korey Wise, who spent 13 years behind bars, will receive $12.25 million.

The city will also pay an additional $285,000 in legal fees, while the rest of the five’s legal fees will be paid from their share of the settlement money.

At a press conference in June, Santana, 39, said the money could never make up for what they went through then — and what they continue to go through now.

“It’s unbelievable the injustice we suffered throughout all these years and that we continue to suffer until today,” he said, taking aim at those who still believe they were involved on the attack.

“The Donald Trumps, the Ann Coulters, the bloggers who still say that we’re guilty . . . they just can’t let it go. We’re innocent. What more do you need? What more do we have to prove?”



Category: Appeals

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