NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A man convicted of shooting at NYPD officers had his case thrown out on Wednesday.

As CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas reported, the decision came after he spent nearly 20 years in prison for a crime he never committed.

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At Brooklyn Supreme Court, 42-year-old Kadafi Ala waited patiently in the hallway for a case that’s consumed half of his life.

“From day one it has always been about my innocence, but my word really wouldn’t mean nothing,” Ala said.

Until Wednesday, when a judge declared he was wrongfully convicted.

Ala, who was previously known as Philip Almeda, spent 19 years in prison before being paroled in 2018, charged with attempted aggravated assault on police officers.

“Justice was provided and served today in numerous ways, but it hurt that I had to go through so much,” Ala said.

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On Jan. 1, 2000, minutes after the new year, officers responded to shots fired calls on a block of Eastern Parkway. Anti-crime officers said they saw Almeda firing shots in their direction, before emerging from the right side of the courtyard. No one was hit. Bullet casings and a gun were found on the sidewalk.

But a recent report by the Brooklyn district attorney‘s Conviction Review Unit found, “It was unlikely that the defendant could have used the recovered gun to shoot at police from inside the courtyard.” And it, “questions the accuracy of the officers’ trial testimony.”

The unit then recommended the conviction be thrown out.

“It’s nothing but opportunity, a door and window of opportunity. Everything is .. it’s still a struggle,” Ala said.

With a renewed lease on life, Ala is now a free man for the first time since he was 20 years old.

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Ala’s case was the 30th exoneration recommended by the Criminal Review Unit since it was established in 2014.

Aundrea Cline-Thomas