In 1989, a 28-year-old successful white business woman fought for her life in a New York City hospital. As news reports surfaced of the brutal rape and beating she survived while out for a jog in New York’s famed Central Park, five teenagers were arrested and interrogated by police officials.
In the coming months and years, the Central Park jogger case gripped a city and nation, and became the focus of much anger and debate related to racial discrimination, police investigation tactics and civil rights. A judge’s recent approval of a $40.75 million settlement may help bring a sense of closure to a case in which the lives of five black and Hispanic men were torn apart.
In the wake of the brutal Central Park jogger attack, the five teens, all aged 14 to 16, were questioned by police officers for hours. The events that transpired during those interrogations eventually lead to false confessions and the convictions and sentencing of the teens in 1990.
Twelve years later, DNA evidence helped prove that the woman had been raped by a man named Matias Reyes. Subsequently, the convictions against the five men were vacated. In the twelve years since the men were deemed innocent, all took legal action against NYC prosecutors and police officers who were accused of “false arrest, malicious prosecution and a racially motivated conspiracy to deprive the men of their civil rights.”
As part of the settlement deal, the five wronged men will each receive approximately $1 million per year they were falsely imprisoned. Nothing, however, can turn back time and right the wrongs and injustices that these young men were subjected to.
While the pursuit for justice in a case that became known as the Central Park Five gained widespread national attention, the stories and plights of many others who are wrongly convicted or who are victims of misconduct carried out by law enforcement and city officials never make the papers.
Source: New York Times, “$41 Million Settlement for 5 Convicted in Central Jogger Case Is Approved,” Benjamin Weiser, Sep. 3, 2014
New York Times, “5 Exonerated in Central Park Jogger Case Agree to Settle Suit for $40 Million,” Benjamin Weiser, June 19, 2014