NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Charges have been vacated against a Bronx teenager who spent over a year on Rikers Island after being accused of a crime he claims he didn’t commit.
“I feel good,” said Pedro Hernandez as he emerged from court victorious Wednesday, 1010 WINS’ Andrew Falzon reported.READ MORE: US Officials: Only A Matter Of Time Before Omicron COVID Variant Found In America
The now 18-year-old was accused of shooting a teen in the leg outside of a Bronx bodega in September 2015.
Despite witnesses who said Hernandez was not involved in the shooting, he was charged with weapons and firearm possession, as well as assault and reckless endangerment.
Hernandez was jailed on $250,000 bail after he refused to take a plea agreement.
He was freed from Rikers in July after the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Organization posted his bail.
Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark dropped the charges Wednesday, hours before Hernandez’s trial was set to begin, after an investigation revealed “unanticipated witness and evidentiary issues.”READ MORE: 2 Islanders Games Postponed Amid COVID-19 Outbreak
“One of the original witnesses is no longer cooperative,” Clark said. “The investigation also revealed that information originally provided to my office during the initial investigation of this case has now proven to be inconsistent and contradictory. Further, the victim of the shooting is unable to identify who shot him.”
Hernandez’s family had hired a private investigator who claimed he found evidence that a police officer and a Bronx prosecutor coerced others to sign false complaints against the teen.
“These detectives falsified, from what I’m looking at, over 50 cases, possibly hundreds more,” the private investigator, Manuel Gomez, said.
Clark said the Public Integrity Bureau is investigating allegations of misconduct by law enforcement in connection with the case.
“Accountability is key to pursuing justice with integrity,” Clark said. “We strive for fairness in all we do and that remains foremost in serving the people of the Bronx.”MORE NEWS: CBS2 Weather Headlines: Passing Rain, Snowflakes Possible Sunday Afternoon; Same Story Overnight
The investigation into the shooting is ongoing.