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Man Wrongly Jailed For 28 Years Files Lawsuit Against U.S. State

A man from Missouri, USA, Lamar Johnson, who was cleared after nearly 30 years of wrongful imprisonment, has filed a federal lawsuit against the city of St. Louis and eight officers. He accused them of framing him for a murder he did not commit. Johnson, now 50, spent 28 years in prison for the 1994 murder of his friend Markus Boyd. According to his attorneys, Johnson, then 20, was with his girlfriend miles away when the murder occurred, challenging the allegations against him.

“But police coerced an eyewitness into a false ID and manufactured false evidence from a racist and unreliable jailhouse informant while failing to interview numerous people who could have testified to Johnson’s whereabouts, seek a single search warrant, or investigate other obvious evidence of his innocence,” Emma Fruedenberger, a partner at NSBHF, said in a statement.

Johnson and the late Phillip Campbell were convicted of shooting Marcus Boyd over an alleged drug debt, resulting in life sentences for both. However, in 2023, a judge, as reported by the Associated Press, released Mr. Johnson after determining his wrongful conviction.

Now seeking punitive damages and an undisclosed monetary sum, Mr Johnson aims to receive compensation for the 28 years he spent unjustly imprisoned.

“I am grateful to be free, and I’m doing my best to make up for all the time that was stolen from me and my family, especially my daughters,” Mr Johnson said. “I want to put this dark and painful chapter behind me, but there can be no healing without answers and accountability. I deserved better, and so did Markus. I intend to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

His attorneys agree. “This lawsuit is about accountability,” Emma Freudenberger, a partner with NSBHF, said in the statement.

“The defendant officers framed a young man with his life ahead of him. Even after the Court declared his innocence, there have been no apologies and no consequences,” the statement continues. “The City of St. Louis cannot continue to simply ignore the glaring police misconduct that has caused Mr. Johnson and his family so much harm.”

Reports indicate that Mr. Johnson acknowledged selling small amounts of drugs while working at Jiffy Tube and attending community college. Despite this, he was determined to clear his name and secure his release from prison. Seeking assistance from the Midwest Innocence Project, he collaborated with then-circuit Attorney Kim Gardner to investigate the murder.

In August 2022, Mr Gardner filed a motion urging a judge to overturn Mr Johnson’s conviction. During a December 2022 hearing in St. Louis Circuit Court, a man named James Howard purportedly confessed to Boyd’s murder. Howard stated that he and Campbell were responsible for Boyd’s death and that Johnson had no involvement in the crime.

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