CLEVELAND, Ohio — A federal jury awarded $13.2 million to a former housing authority security officer Friday after finding two Cleveland detectives fabricated or withheld evidence at his 2000 murder trial.
David Ayers, 56, who spent 11 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit, and several jurors wept as the verdict against detectives Denise Kovach and Michael Cipo was read in U.S. District Court.
“These detectives didn’t do their jobs at all,” juror Stephanie Kocian told The Plain Dealer in an interview. “They manipulated the evidence, and didn’t look at anyone else except the most convenient suspect to convict. The word ‘railroaded’ was thrown around the jury room during deliberations.”
At the time of his 1999 arrest, Ayers had been working for more than eight years as a security officer with the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority. He was accused and eventually convicted of the beating death 76-year-old Dorothy Brown, who lived in a CMHA high rise in Cleveland.
Ayers continued to maintain his innocence, filing appeals while serving a life prison term for aggravated murder. He finally prevailed in 2011, when DNA tests proved that a single pubic hair found in Brown’s mouth did not come from him.