Wrongfully Convicted Trio Exonerated After 45 Years Reaches $18 Million Settlement With City of Cleveland

Rickey Jackson, Kwame Ajamu and Wiley Bridgeman have reached an $18 million settlement with the city of Cleveland for their wrongful convictions in a 1975 murder case that put the trio behind bars for a combined 100 years.

“I guess I would say to the world, I am elated and very satisfied that this day has finally come," Ajamu said in a statement. "I have family, I have a wife to consider for the rest of my life to live in peace and harmony.”

The path to exoneration was spurred by a 2011 Scene investigation by Kyle Swenson, who last year wrote a book on the case.

"Money doesn't give back what was taken, but it helps hold bad actors accountable. It's a win for justice," Swenson said of the settlement. "It's been a long journey for these men, but this finally closes a true case of injustice, gross misconduct, and everything that's bad about our system."

The settlement comes after the trio sued the Cleveland police department and the specific officers who handled their case.

“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," Rickey Jackson said in a statement. "However, I am very pleased with this result and the fact that this terrible chapter of my life is finally closed.”

Jackson was represented by Arthur Loevy, Jon Loevy and Elizabeth Wang of the civil rights law firm Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law.

Ajamu and Bridgeman were represented by Friedman and Gilbert partners Terry Gilbert and Jacqueline Greene.

“For 45 years, our clients never gave up hope that someday their nightmare would be over,” Gilbert said in a statement. “That time has come with this final resolution providing some measure of justice and closure. But the physical and emotional trauma our clients were forced to endure is an example of the deep flaws of a racist criminal legal system focused on results rather than truth and justice.”
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Vince Grzegorek

Vince Grzegorek has been with Scene since 2007 and editor-in-chief since 2012. He previously worked at Discount Drug Mart and Texas Roadhouse.
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