OAN’s Brooke Mallory
1:10 PM – Wednesday, January 10, 2024
A $25 million settlement has been struck between a North Carolina city and the state of North Carolina regarding a complaint that accused authorities of misconduct, according to the victim’s attorneys on Tuesday. The man had been falsely convicted and imprisoned for 44 years.
A public written apology from the city of Concord for its part in Ronnie Wallace Long’s incarceration was also included in the settlement, which would put a stop to the wrongful incarceration case brought by his attorneys in 2021. In terms of the settlement, the city, which is around 25 miles northeast of Charlotte, has agreed to pay $22 million of the $25 million settlement.
“We are deeply remorseful for the past wrongs that caused tremendous harm to Mr. Long, his family, friends, and our community,” the statement read. “While there are no measures to fully restore to Mr. Long and his family all that was taken from them, through this agreement we are doing everything in our power to right the past wrongs and take responsibility.”
Long, who is now 68-years-old, was charged with raping a White woman while he was a young man residing in Concord, North Carolina. In 1976, Long was found guilty of burglary and rape by an all-White jury in Cabarrus County. Long was given two life sentences at the age of 21.
Long received years of assistance from a wrongful convictions clinic at Duke University’s law school in his criminal case appeal.
More than forty fingerprints taken from the scene, according to Long’s attorneys, were never compared to Long’s. Additionally, his defense team was never given access to the semen samples.
In August 2020, Long was granted a second hearing by a federal appeals court as part of his request for relief. Long’s conviction was swiftly overturned, and he was allowed to leave prison. Later that year, Governor Roy Cooper fully pardoned him on the grounds of innocence.
A few months later, Long was given $750,000 by a state panel, which is the maximum amount of money that the state may provide victims of wrongful incarceration.
After that, he filed a lawsuit in federal court in Raleigh, claiming, among other things, that Concord police officers had engaged in “extraordinary misconduct” that resulted in his unjust conviction and detention, which “violated his constitutional rights.”
According to a press release from his attorneys, Long also earned an additional $3 million from the State Bureau of Investigation as part of the settlement “as a result of the SBI’s role in hiding evidence from Mr. Long and his legal team that proved his innocence.”
Concord officials also said on Tuesday that they “acknowledge and accept responsibility for the significant errors in judgment and willful misconduct by previous city employees that led to Long’s wrongful conviction and imprisonment.”
Long’s lawyers asserted that the city’s declaration was crucial to their client, even though they called the financial payouts “one of the largest wrongful conviction settlements” in the country.
“This result speaks to the magnitude of injustice that occurred in Mr. Long’s case,” said Chris Olson, one of Long’s lawyers. He also added that the “apology goes a long way in helping Mr. Long heal.”
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