WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – The Wilmington City Council announced Monday a $7 million settlement for a man who spent 28 years in prison for a murder charge that was dismissed after a judge ruled he did not receive a fair trial.

At a news conference just before 7 p.m. after a closed-session meeting Monday, council confirmed the settlement. Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said the settlement, which acknowledges Wilmington Police Department detectives did not turn over evidence properly, is pending in federal court.

“The City of Wilmington has reached an agreement with Johnny Michael Small to settle his claim against the City and six WPD officers, for the amount of $7 million after Mr. Small served more than 28 years in prison,” a press release reads. “The agreement will bring an end to Small’s pending federal lawsuit” against the city.

The settlement money will be coming out of the general fund for the City of Wilmington, said Mayor Saffo.

“We are disappointed to learn about this situation. This occurred 30 years ago, and is not reflective of our current police department,” Saffo said at Monday’s press conference.

Johnny Small was 15 years old when he was charged with first-degree murder for the 1988 killing of Pamela Dreher, a 32-year-old woman found shot in the head inside her Wilmington fish store with $175 missing from the cash register.

Fast forward to 2016. Small was released from prison after a key witness recanted his original testimony, saying he was coerced into creating a fabricated confession that implicated Small in the killing.


This article was originally published in WECT News