Two exonerated Black men who spent almost 18 years in a Michigan prison for a murder they did not commit have filed a $160 million federal lawsuit against two Inkster police detectives as well as the city.
According to the Associated Press, the suit was filed by Kevin Harrington and George Clark in a federal court on Monday. Per the suit, the exonerated men claim the Inkster police violated their constitutional rights when they were implicated in 2002 for a fatal shooting.
Harrington, 38, and Clark, 49, were convicted for the 2002 killing of Michael Martin in Inkster, Michigan, a crime both men insist they were innocent of. The two were cleared by the Wayne County prosecutor’s office after a special unit looking into the case established a “disturbing pattern of behavior” from a particular detective who threatened and coerced witnesses.
Wolf Mueller, the attorney for the two, said his clients were “seized without probable cause, charged with crimes they did not commit, wrongfully convicted and deprived of their liberty.”
Clark was freed from the Lakeland Correctional Facility on bond in early April last year due to the spread of COVID-19 in the facility. Harrington, according to reports, had four separate trials. The first ended in a verdict being overturned, two ended with hung juries, and the last ended with him being convicted of first-degree murder. He was offered a 7-year plea deal, which he turned down.
“People might say, ‘$160 million, that is a crazy amount of money,’” Mueller told the Detroit Free Press on Tuesday. “That is a lot of money. So is the harm of putting two people in a cage for 18 years for something they didn’t do.”
During the investigations into the murder, Mueller said the two detectives on the case – Anthony Abdallah and Kevin Smith – concealed evidence that could have implicated another suspect for the murder and threatened to jail a single mother if she “didn’t tell them what they wanted to hear.”
Mueller said the woman was left with no resort but to concoct a story “implicating two men who hardly knew each other as co-conspirators of the murder,” and the detectives in question “should be held accountable for the harm they caused.”
Speaking to the Detroit Free Press, Clark spoke about how he held on to faith while incarcerated. “I always knew I was innocent,” he said. He also recalled how his conviction affected his ailing mother after she got to know about it despite trying to keep that information away from her.
“She was elderly, and she wasn’t in the best of health,” Clark recalled. “I told the family, ‘Do not tell her what this case is.’ But, lo and behold she got wind of what was really going on, and at that point she stopped taking her medicine and she gave up.”
Besides the $160 million the two are seeking, they are also demanding $50,000 for every month they spent in prison. This compensation package for wrongfully incarcerated persons is allowed under Michigan law, according to the Associated Press.