Man exonerated after decades in prison sues Philadelphia

A man who was exonerated after spending over three decades in prison and a quarter century on death row for convictions of murder is suing the city of Philadelphia, according to multiple reports

Christopher Williams's lawsuit was filed to federal court Wednesday against the city of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Police Department, Philadelphia District Attorney's Office, 17 police detectives, two former assistant district attorneys and former district attorney Lynne Abraham, according to local PBS affiliate WHYY.

“I didn’t go to weddings. I didn’t see childbirths. You’re talking about 25 grandchildren. I didn’t see none of them come into the world,” Williams at a press conference Wednesday.

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The lawsuit includes over 80 counts against defendants including malicious prosecution, failure to intervene, supervisory liability, and discrimination.

Williams was released from prison in February after years in prison. In the 1980s, he was prosecuted for the killings of six people. He was acquitted for two of the homicides, but convicted for the other four. 

Years later, the Philadelphia District Attorney's Conviction Integrity Unit combed through Williams' cases and that prosecutors had made a deal with an informant who gave details against Williams without the defense's knowledge. The informant later admitted to lying about the information.

He was exonerated in December 2019 and February 2021 for all the false convictions. He was released after the second exoneration. 

The suit also alleges that the man' conviction included “policies, patterns, and practices that intentionally discriminated against Black men," according to WHYY. 

Benjamin Crump, the renowned civil rights lawyer who represented the families of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, will be representing Williams in this case. Crump will ask the jury for $100 million in damages for Williams, according to the PBS affiliate. 

Crump said that Williams's case is “a historical teachable moment for America,” according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

“Chris Williams ... is almost like the symbol for wrongful conviction of Black men in America,” Crump stated, according to the Inquirer. “We have to be better than this. We cannot continue to let racism cloud our judgment when it comes to not even just wrongful convictions but administering justice.”