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Family of Wrongfully Convicted Man Files Lawsuit Against City and Police

Jun 23, 2014

The family of David Ranta, who spent more than two decades in prison for a crime he did not commit, has sued the city and police officers for $15 million, the New York Times reports. Mr. Ranta has already reached a settlement with the city. His conviction was the work of Louis Scarcella, a retired detective whose methods have come under scrutiny. This issue came to light when it was realized that Scarcella used the same crack addict to testify in several different cases.

Ranta was wrongfully convicted of killing a Hasidic rabbi. He was released last year after revisited evidence made it near impossible for him to be guilty. According to the New York Times, a witness said that Scarcella instructed him to select Ranta out of a police lineup. Furthermore, two other witnesses said they had lied.

In an unusual decision by city comptroller Scott M. Stringer, the city settled with Ranta in February for $6.4 million before he filed the lawsuit. Stringer said the settlement was to avoid lengthy litigation and that it was morally the right thing to do.

Mr. Ranta’s former wife, son and daughter have filed a lawsuit against the city, the Police Department, Scarcella and his partner Stephen W. Chmil alleging that the family has been ripped apart by the ordeal. It is the first federal lawsuit to name Scarcella or his partner since scrutiny over their methods became public. All 57 of Scarcella’s convictions are being reviewed by the Brooklyn district attorney, Kenneth P. Thompson. Some of those convicted prisoners have already been released.

Ranta’s family alleges that their rights were violated. The wrongful conviction caused them to be “deprived of their intimate familial relations with David Ranta,” and they were “branded as the family of a murderer.” The complaint also alleges “misconduct and egregious failures of supervision and oversight,” by the Police Department and the Brooklyn DA’s office.

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