NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Imagine being wrongly accused and jailed for it.
That’s exactly what happened to a Brooklyn man who gained his freedom only after technology backed up his story.
CBS 2’s Jay Dow spoke Wednesday with a man who spent 18 days in Rikers Island jail.
After spending almost three weeks behind bars, Shane Rhooms said he has a new appreciation for his freedom.
“Prison is not for me. It wasn’t built for me,” Rhooms said.
The 22-year-old Brooklyn resident was accused of firing several shots at three police officers who allegedly caught him smoking marijuana in the early morning hours of Sept. 6, in Flatbush. Rhooms did not run.
“The reason I turned myself in, because I don’t know what’s going on,” Rhooms said.
At the time Rhooms was allegedly in Brooklyn shooting at New York City Police officers he said he was actually at Webster Hall in Manhattan, attending a reggae concert with his cousin.
Rhoom’s family hired attorney Sam Gregory, who got his hand on proof he needed from the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, which was investigating the case — Webster Hall surveillance video, which showed Rhooms and his cousin in the club.
Gregory then got his client’s cell phone records, which show calls that were placed through cell towers in Manhattan at the time police said he was breaking the law in Brooklyn. The Brooklyn DA’s Office ultimately dismissed the case, but not before Rhooms spent those weeks at Rikers, facing a maximum penalty of life in prison.
“When you make a mistake, say I made a mistake,” Gregory said. “He’s got his life back.”
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the Department still stands by the three cops who identified Rhooms as the shooter, one of whom arrested the young man for fireworks possession over July 4 weekend.
“I’m relieved that I’m off the case, but at the same time I’m still grieving because at the same time I was going through this process, my grandma actually passed and I didn’t get to go to her funeral,” Rhooms said.
Rhooms is now planning to file a civil suit against the NYPD.
To be clear, despite the NYPD’s insistence that they had the right man, the criminal case against Rhooms has been officially dismissed by the Brooklyn DA’s Office.