A Black teenager was demanding justice more than four years after he was falsely accused of murder in Florida. It was one of the latest cases involving allegations that police and prosecutors held a suspect in custody despite apparent proof of innocence.
Deandre Charles, 18, filed a federal wrongful arrest lawsuit last week against Miami-Dade police, the Miami Herald reported Tuesday. He was accused of gunning down Rabbi Joseph Raksin in August 2014. Part of the evidence used by the prosecutor included a suspect sketch, which looked as though a grade-school child could have drawn it, presented by the prosecutor at a 2015 news conference. The prosecutor eventually dropped the charges against the teenager why?.
“It was evident right away that Deandre was not responsible or involved with the unfortunate death of Rabbi Raksin,” said Adam Goodman, one of Charles’ lawyers on Tuesday. “During the discovery process, it became clear that other suspects were involved, and ignored by MDPD and the State Attorney’s Office. The lack of evidence against Deandre was alarming, and he spent almost a year of his high school life in jail due to this travesty.”
Raksin was visiting his family in Florida and was shot as he walked to synagogue for Saturday services.
The police claimed that Charles’ DNA was on the murder weapon and the getaway vehicle. Investigators also said cellphone records indicated that the teenager was near the crime scene.
However, the circuit judge hearing the case criticized the prosecutor for its circumstantial evidence that fell apart. He ordered the prosecutor to release Charles on bail in March 2016. The district attorney dropped the charges in January 2017.
Nationwide, African-American men are disproportionately victims of wrongful convictions and police misconduct, according to a 2017 report from the National Registry of Exonerations.
Black people comprised 47 percent of the 1,900 exonerations in the registry, yet African Americans represent just 13 percent of the U.S. population. Innocent Black people were seven times more likely to be convicted of murder than innocent white people.
Making matter worse, police misconduct was 22 percent more likely in wrongful murder convictions of innocent Black people.
In December, NewsOne profiled Xavier Jajuan Davis, who sued a Michigan prosecutor and cops for holding him in jail for months last year even though there was allegedly strong evidence he was innocent of sexual assault charges.
The Raksin’s killing, which drew national attention, went unsolved for 16 months when the police arrested Charles. He was the only person ever arrested for the murder. Since his release, the police have not arrested another suspect.