A Black man who was wrongly imprisoned for 23 years and was exonerated of the crime last year has been awarded $7 million by the city of New York.
According to The Associated Press, New York City has approved a $7 million settlement to Grant Williams, who spent 23 years in prison for a murder he had nothing to do with, Comptroller Brad Lander disclosed on Monday.
Richmond County District Attorney Michael McMahon disclosed in July that the conviction of Williams, who served 23 years in prison for a 1996 murder, would be vacated. Williams was exonerated for the 1996 shooting of Shdell Lewis outside a public housing complex in Staten Island.
The 51-year-old Williams had been placed on parole in 2019. After he was cleared last year, he filed a notice of claim against the city.
Williams’ lawyer, Irving Cohen, said the city “did the right thing” by reaching a settlement quickly.
“This will assist him in going forward and trying to get back on his feet,” and finally put the ordeal behind him, Cohen said.
The case against Williams relied heavily on the words of a couple of eyewitnesses. One, a police officer who chased the gunman, initially gave a description that didn’t match that of Williams.
Prosecutors attempted to place a connection between Williams and a baseball cap that the shooter dropped at the scene that featured the Wu-Tang Clan logo. The cap was never tested for DNA that may have revealed another person. Williams’ connection with Wu-Tang Clan was based on him working at its Staten Island studio. His lawyer said there was no telling how many hometown fans might have had Wu-Tang Clan hats at the time.
No evidence—physical, forensic, or digital—was connected to Williams. Some witnesses testified that he wasn’t the gunman.
New York State recently settled a different claim from Williams for $5 million.