A New York man who spent 24 years in prison after he was wrongfully convicted of murder reached a $10.5 million settlement with the city on Thursday, officials announced. According to The Associated Press, the settlement came after Shawn Williams filed a federal civil rights lawsuit for his wrongful conviction.
Williams, now 47, was sentenced to prison in 1994 after he was found guilty of shooting and killing his neighbor the year prior. Williams’ conviction was one of several cases linked to former Brooklyn homicide detective Louis Scarcella. The retired detective is accused of coercing witnesses and framing suspects while serving on the police force during the late 1980s and 1990s. Crime was at its peak during that period.
A woman had testified that she saw Williams armed with a gun at the scene of the crime. But forensic evidence did not link him to the fatal shooting. In 2013, however, the woman recanted her testimony and claimed Scarcella had coerced her to identify Williams as the shooter.
“No amount of money can give me back the years they took from me,” Williams said in a statement to The New York Times. “But I am going to keep rebuilding my life and looking ahead to a brighter future.”
New York City has had to pay millions of dollars to settle lawsuits for cases linked to Scarcella, per The Associated Press. In 2019, Face2Face Africa reported the retired detective had been linked to several wrongful conviction cases with over 10 being overturned. But Scarcella has refuted the allegations.
Scarcella’s attorney, Richard Signorelli, said the former detective “categorically denies all the allegations of misconduct” in Williams’ conviction. Signorelli added that the money Williams is receiving from the city “does not constitute any admission of liability or wrongdoing on Det. Scarcella’s part.”