Falsely Convicted Black Man Seeks $50 Million After Serving Decades In Jail

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A Queens Black man has filed a $50 million lawsuit against the city after he was forced to spend 24 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit.

In March 2021, George Bell was among several Black men found to be wrongfully convicted of the 1996 double murder of an NYPD officer and a store owner. However, Bell's exoneration occurred after he was allegedly beaten up by police officers and forced to falsely confess, which led to the then-19-year-old serving over two decades behind bars.

According to Queens Daily Eagle, Bell, along with his attorney Richard Emery, are now suing New York City and eight police officers for $50 million almost a year after Bell was officially exonerated in July 2021.

“He’s a remarkable guy, but he has lost the lion’s share of his life, certainly more than half of it,” Emery said in a statement.

“We're asking for a big sum of money from the city for having railroaded him in ways that were outrageous because people at the time either knew or clearly should have known, that he was innocent,” the attorney added.

In 1996, check cashing store owner Ira Epstein and NYPD officer Charles Davis were killed during a robbery. Their murders launched a city-wide manhunt for the killers led by then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was allegedly facing political pressure to find the perpetrators by Christmas of that year.

Bell, Gary Johnson, and Rohan Bolt were arrested on Christmas morning and convicted on shoddy police work, including testimony from an alleged eyewitness who was facing legal issues of his own and upset that Bell was dating his ex-girlfriend.

The lawsuit also states that police officers beat up Bell and threatened to “put him in a f–king hospital” to get him to confess.

At the time of Bell's exoneration, the Queens district attorney’s Wrongful Conviction Unit additionally found that NYPD officers had knowingly withheld and buried evidence in order to convict the three Black men.

“The racism of all of this was palpable and most assuredly the fact that most of the victims of false convictions, an overwhelming number, are Black men,” Emery said. “George was a victim of racial stereotyping at least, if not direct racial antipathy.”

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