A man in North Carolina was recently released from prison after spending decades behind bars for a crime he did not commit. Now, he's suing the city that arrested him.
Last year, Ronnie Long was released from prison and exonerated after serving 44 years in prison, a sentence handed down when he was convicted of rape in the 1970s when he was 21 years old. However, he has always maintained his innocence, and in August 2020, a federal appeals court agreed. According to WCNC, the court said that police lied on the stand during Long's trial in 1976 and hid evidence that would have cleared him of the crime.
Long's conviction was overturned and the now-65 year old received a pardon from Gov. Roy Cooper in December. He also was awarded compensation for his sentence, receiving $750,000 in March. According to a state statute, a person who has been wrongly convicted can get $50,000 from the state for each year they were in prisoned; however, the amount is capped at $750,000.
"We're grateful the pardon was issued and that he had some means of financial security. Of course, $750,000 is a meager sum when you think of 44 years of your life," said Long's criminal attorney Jamie Lau. "That cap is completely inadequate when you can consider people losing so much time in their lives."
Long is now suing the City of Concord as well as the detectives who worked on his case and the current and former police chiefs, WCNC reports. In the lawsuit, he alleges they kept him imprisoned even when evidence showed he was innocent and that they "systematically suppressed every bit of evidence which showed there was no link between Long and the victim or crime scene."
The City of Concord and current Police Chief Gary Gacek told the news outlet they cannot comment on pending lawsuits.
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