Largest Civil Rights Settlement in Ohio History

Rickey Jackson Spent Nearly 4 Decades in Prison Due to Frame-Up by Cleveland Police

CLEVELAND – After spending nearly 40 years wrongly imprisoned—one of the longest incarcerations of any exoneree in U.S. history–this morning Rickey Jackson and his co-plaintiffs, Kwame Ajamu and Wiley Bridgeman, announced an $18 million settlement of their cases against the City of Cleveland and its police department.

This is the largest settlement ever in a civil rights case by the City of Cleveland or in the State of Ohio.

In 1975 at the age of 18, Jackson began serving prison time which stretched into virtually his entire adult lifetime. In their quest to get him locked up for a crime he did not commit, Cleveland police allegedly withheld and destroyed exculpatory evidence, fabricated evidence, and coerced a 12-year-old boy into falsely fingering Mr. Jackson for murder. 

The suit alleged that Cleveland police withheld crucial exculpatory evidence from both defense and prosecution attorneys, and physically attacked Jackson in an unsuccessful attempt to get him to falsely confess to the crimes. During his imprisonment, Jackson lost his mother, father, stepfather, and other loved ones during his wrongful incarceration. In addition, he suffered physical injuries and assaults during his imprisonment.

Mr. Jackson says, “What happened to me should not have happened to anyone and I was ready to hold Cleveland accountable for their actions at a public trial. However, I am very pleased with this result and the fact that this terrible chapter of my life is finally closed.”

The Ohio Innocence Project was pivotal in getting Jackson recognized as a wrongfully imprisoned man and winning his release from prison on November 11, 2014. In the subsequent five-year battle to win compensation from Cleveland for the wrongful imprisonment, Jackson was represented by Arthur Loevy, Jon Loevy, Elizabeth Wang and Renee Spence of the civil rights law firm Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law. Loevy & Loevy has won more multi-million dollar jury verdicts than any other civil rights law firm in the entire country over the past decade, and has offices in Chicago, Boulder, Washington, DC, and Seattle. Copies of the suit, Jackson v. City of Cleveland, et al., No. 1:15-CV-989, are available here.

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