NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — An amateur boxer, who found himself wrongly accused of robbing a woman of her cellphone, has won the fight of his life.
He had the charges dismissed, because as CBS 2’s John Slattery reported, the Queens District Attorney agreed he couldn’t have committed the crime.
Moustapha Dioubate, 24, who had spent three days in Rikers Island before he could make bail, walked out of court a free man on Tuesday.
“I feel so happy. The case is dismissed,” Dioubate said. “I’m so happy.”
Dioubate came to the United States from Guinea in West Africa when he was 11. While his passion was boxing, he made a living driving a yellow cab until he was arrested.
On February 18, a few blocks from Queens College, a 29-year-old woman had her cell phone stolen on a residential street. She told police the thief grabbed her phone, ran 15 feet, glanced back at her, then kept running.
As a teen, Dioubate pleaded guilty to menacing so his photo was in the system. When the phone was stolen and based on the victim’s description, police showed her a photo array of six pictures, including Dioubate.
She chose him.
“She said it was me. She said she was 100 percent sure it was me,” Dioubate said.
Private investigator Arthur Grix investigated for the defense.
“I interviewed that witness and she told me she was 100 percent sure, and she doesn’t make mistakes,” Grix said.
But apparently she did.
Dioubate’s car was in Manhattan at the time of the robbery. E-ZPass records confirmed it at the Midtown tunnel. At a Midtown hotel, he picked up two friends and Dioubate was also seen in a Harlem restaurant with the two friends.
Still, the victim was sure.
“I don’t know if we want to say it’s racial profiling, it’s [the] inability to distinguish,” said Dioubate’s attorney, William Ezersky.
On Monday, Karl Vanderwoude, accused of being the “gentleman groper,” had charges dropped.
John Jay College professor Eugene O’Donnell teaches that a positive witness can present a terrible miscarriage of justice.
“These one-witness cases, where one person says ‘This is the person categorically,’ these are the cases that give you nightmares because that is — in theory — enough to send someone to prison,” he said.
The defense commended the Queens DA for re-examining all the evidence and deciding the man charged, didn’t do it.
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