A 36-year-old drug dealer and street gang member in Los Angeles, was shot and killed while standing outside a fast food restaurant.
A witness who was so close to the shooting that her clothes were splattered with blood picked out 5 men whom she said were involved with the killing, leading to them being charged with murder. Each pleaded no contest to manslaughter and received prison sentences of 12 years.
Approximately 5 years later the witness recanted her statement saying the people she ID were not the actual people involved in the murders and she made these allegations at the request of one of the police officers who originally arrived on the scene of the fast food murder. It was later discovered the same police officer had been involved with an affair with this witness beginning when she was 16 years old. The officer just pulled the pictures of gang members from a police book and instructed the witness to testify against them
The same police officer years earlier had been involved in a large scandal in the police department that led to his conviction and the dismissal of up to 150 convictions obtained by him and his fellow officers.
Lawyers for the five defendants filed a motion for a new trial and the judge granted the motion. The judge dismissed the charges at the request of the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office and ordered all 5 men freed.
All five men filed federal civil rights lawsuits against the city of Los Angeles. The city settled four of the cases. Each wrongly convicted person received between $300,000 - $850,000.