Man Exonerated After 25 Years in Prison Sues Detroit Police for $125 Million

A man who spent 25 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit has filed a civil rights lawsuit seeking $125 million from the city of Detroit and police officers he claims framed him.

Desmond Ricks, 51, was released from prison in May after new tests available supported his claims that Detroit police intentionally fingered him for a 1992 murder.

“What [Ricks] was saying seemed to be outlandish: The Detroit police crime lab would not only make mistakes but switch bullets. It wasn’t outlandish — it was true,” David Moran, director of the Innocence Clinic at University of Michigan, told reporters at the time. “This outlandish conduct cost Desmond Ricks 25 years.”

An analysis of two bullets in police storage that were taken from the victim, Ricks’ friend Gerry Bennett, showed they did not match the gun that belonged to Rick’s mother that was presented as the murder weapon.

Prosecutors dropped the case against Ricks, but also said the statute of limitations prevented them from pursuing the officers involved in the case.

On Thursday, Ricks and his daughters, Akilah Cobb and Desire’a Ricks — who were 7 years and 5 days old, respectively, at the time of their father’s arrest — filed a civil rights lawsuit seeking $125 million in compensatory and punitive damages under federal and state law.

Named as defendants in the suit are a retired evidence technician and the officer in charge of the investigation that led to Rick’s wrongful conviction.

The lawsuit claims that the retired Detroit police officers framed Ricks by fabricating bullet evidence by swapping out the bullets taken from Bennett’s body with bullets test-fired from the Rossi .38 special caliber revolver belonging to Ricks’ mother.

“Since the officers cannot be put in prison, this is the only way to begin to right a horrific misconduct and the harm to our criminal justice system,” Ricks’ attorney, Wolfgang Mueller, told reporters.

Under the Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act, a bipartisan bill that passed in December, those exonerated are eligible to receive $50,000 for each year they were wrongly incarcerated, plus attorney fees they incurred during the litigation process, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Ricks was incarcerated for 25 years, making him potentially eligible to receive $1.25 million from the state.