In 2016, Herbert Alford, a Black man from Michigan, was wrongfully convicted of second-degree murder, now he’s suing Hertz rental car company for not providing the receipt that would’ve proved his innocence.
According to a report by CNN, Alford, now 47 years old, spent nearly half a decade behind bars before being freed last year after the Hertz company finally provided authorities a receipt that supported his innocence.
The receipt showed that Alford was in the process of renting a car from the company at the Lansing airport just minutes before the murder occurred.
Alford's attorneys say the company didn’t provide the receipt to court officials until 2018, two years after they first reached out. “Had the defendants not ignored and disobeyed numerous court orders requiring them to produce the documentation that eventually freed Mr. Alford, he would not have spent over 1,700 days incarcerated,” Alford’s lawyers wrote in a legal complaint obtained by CNN.
Alford was convicted for the 2011 shooting death of 23-year-old Michael Adams, who was killed at a strip mall eight miles away from where Alford was completing the car rental transaction, according to NPR.
Hertz was reportedly subpoenaed during the trial and after Alford’s conviction to provide the documentation, but never did until 2018. After the documentation was submitted to courts, Alford’s conviction was overturned and he was exonerated last year.
Alford filed the lawsuit against the rental car company on Tuesday (March 9) and is seeking financial compensation. Jamie White, Alford’s attorney, told NPR the company “viciously disregarded his request for cooperation. For that reason Hertz is responsible financially for the harms he has suffered.” White described the “enormous toll” on Alford’s mental health being imprisoned had to WLNS-TV, stating that getting freed seemed impossible.
White also revealed that it took a whole separate trial against Hertz for them to produce the receipt.
Hertz spokesperson Lauren Luster wrote in a statement to NPR that the company is “deeply saddened” by Alford’s predicament, stating the technology prevented them from giving the receipt to courts. “While we were unable to find the historic rental record from 2011 when it was requested in 2015, we continued our good faith efforts to locate it,” Luster wrote. “With advances in data search in the years following, we were able to locate the rental record in 2018 and promptly provided it.”
White, however, says that race was a major factor that contributed to the delay. “This is a global organization with an enormous amount of resources…,” he said. “The only thing that makes sense to me is that they looked at this African American man, presumed he’d be convicted, and they didn’t have time for it.”
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