NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Brooklyn man is free after spending more than 20 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.
A judge ordered his release Wednesday afternoon. As CBS2’s Erin Logan reported, the case involves a former detective with a controversial past.
It was a moment Jabbar Washington has waited more than two decades for.
“I’m just happy to go home with my family and loved ones who stuck behind me,” he said. “I couldn’t give up, I had to keep fighting. It was all a bad dream. It had to end someday.”
His mother, Martha, was very emotional.
“21 years. We’re going to be all right now,” she said Wednesday.
Jabbar’s kids were all smiles.
“She wasn’t even born when this happened,” Jabbar said of his daughter. “And now she’s grown and my son was a little one.”
Defense attorney Ronald Kuby explains the decision by acting District Attorney Eric Gonzalez to reverse his client’s conviction is based on a decision made by then Assistant District Attorney Kyle Reeves.
Kuby says Reeves withheld crucial evidence from the defense.
The case goes back to January 1995, when there was a robbery and shooting in Brownsville, Brooklyn. One person was killed and five more were shot. One of the victims, Lisa Todd, identified Jabbar in a lineup conducted by two former detectives.
One of those detectives was well-known Louis Scarcella.
“Detective Scarcella lied on the witness stand about the sole eyewitness identifying Jabbar Washington,” Kuby said. “That eyewitness never identified Jabbar Washington as the person who committed the crime, or the person who was there in the apartment that night. She did identify him, correctly, as someone who lived in the building.”
Kuby says Scarcella did more than just that to his client.
“He testified that Detective Scarcella literally beat the confession out of him,” Kuby said. “I recognize at that time no one was willing to believe that.”
He’s hopeful that moving forward, they will. A number of cases that Scarcella has been involved in were overturned after being scrutinized by the district attorney’s criminal review unit.
Kuby says two other men had their cases overturned.
Jabbar says right now, his thoughts about Scarcella — or holding anyone else accountable for his wrongful conviction — will be put on the backburner. His focus is spending time with his family, including his two daughters who he barely even knows.