Wrongly imprisoned US brothers sue detectives

2015-07-03 13:42

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Cleveland - Police detectives threatened a 12-year-old witness to make him offer false testimony in a murder case and fabricated statements by him, according to a federal lawsuit filed Thursday by two brothers who spent decades in prison for a crime they didn't commit.

The lawsuit, naming several living and deceased Cleveland police detectives and the city, also alleges it was common practice for detectives not to turn over notes, including witness statements, during investigations.

The complaint was filed by Wiley Bridgeman and Ronnie Bridgeman, who now goes by Kwame Ajamu. The brothers were among three men convicted on the testimony of witness Eddie Vernon, now in his 50s.

Wiley Bridgeman spent more than 37 years in prison, while Ajamu spent about 25.

Vernon said in 2013 that detectives threatened to put his parents in jail and coerced him into implicating the Bridgeman brothers and Ricky Jackson in the 1975 slaying of salesman Harold Franks outside a corner store.

Jackson and the Bridgeman brothers received death sentences that were later commuted to life in prison. Jackson's attorneys say he is believed to have served the longest prison term in the US for someone wrongfully convicted — 39 years.

Jackson filed a similar lawsuit against the officers and the city in May. Both lawsuits allege detectives helped fabricate the witness' trial testimony and falsified investigative reports.

As with Jackson's lawsuit, the brothers' lawsuit details how officers coerced Vernon into implicating the men.

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