But they noted that the relief was streaked with sadness: Shortly after signing the settlement documents, Fleming, 53, went to a hospital where his mother is near death. Her only son was behind bars for nearly half his life, convicted of shooting a friend in Brooklyn in August 1989, though he had told authorities he was more than 1,000 miles away at the time and had plane tickets, videos and other material to show it. A woman testified that she had seen him commit the crime.
But then that eyewitness recanted, newly found witnesses implicated someone else and prosecutors’ review of authorities’ files turned up documents backing Fleming’s alibi. That evidence included a hotel receipt that he paid in Orlando, Florida, about five hours before the shooting and had in his pocket when arrested. Authorities had never given his defense that receipt or a 1989 Orlando police letter telling New York detectives that some employees at the hotel remembered Fleming.
While the city has a legal department that fields lawsuits, the comptroller can also settle claims. Stringer has made a point of doing that in civil rights cases, saying that resolving them quickly saves the city money on legal fees.
He reached a $6.4m settlement with a man exonerated in the 1990s killing of a rabbi; agreed to a $2.25m payout to the family of a mentally ill inmate who died in a Rikers Island jail cell that sweltered to 101F because of a malfunctioning heating system; and a $17m settlement in the case of three half brothers who spent a combined 60 years in prison before their convictions were thrown out.
article via theguardian.com