Desmond Ricks alleged the police switched bullets to connect him to the incident.

By Kalyn Womack

The city of Detroit has agreed to pay $7.5 million in a settlement to Desmond Ricks, a Black man who claims the police framed him for a murder he did not commit, according to The Associated Press. Ricks spent 25 years in prison on a wrongful conviction.

Though the case had been closed when he was released in 2017, gun experts and law students at the University of Michigan asked the judge to reopen it.

In a June 1, 2017 file photo, Desmond Ricks listens to Judge Richard Skutt during a hearing in Detroit. The city of Detroit agreed, July 12, 2022, to pay $7.5 million to settle a lawsuit by Ricks who claimed police switched bullets to pin a murder on him in 1992. Ricks was released from prison in 2017 after 25 years, thanks to gun experts, law students at the University of Michigan and his unwavering insistence that he was innocent.
Photo: Clarence Tabb Jr./The Detroit News (AP)

In March 1992, Gerry Bennett, 21, was shot and killed outside a burger joint in Detroit. According to the Detroit Free Press, Rick was arrested in connection to the murder two days later. A firearm Ricks’ mother kept under her pillow was taken as evidence and used by the prosecution to compare the bullets to those in Bennett’s body. A ballistics expert confirmed the bullets were a match.

In September 1992, Ricks was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to up to 60 years in prison. However, Ricks maintained his innocence and his case caught the attention of the right people.

In 2016, the Innocence Clinic at University of Michigan law school asked a judge to reopen the case. Photos of two bullets taken from the victim, Gerry Bennett, did not resemble the bullets that were examined by a defense expert before trial decades earlier.

The actual bullets surprisingly were still in Detroit police storage. Examinations showed they did not match the .38-caliber gun identified as the weapon. A judge granted Ricks a new trial, but prosecutors in response dropped charges.

During depositions in the lawsuit, even the city’s expert acknowledged that the bullet analysis by the police lab decades ago was flat-out wrong.

“It’s one of two things. It was a horrible mistake or it was deliberate — I don’t know,” said Jay Jarvis, who worked for 32 years at the Georgia State Crime Laboratory.

Ricks had already received another $1 million from the state in compensation for his wrongful conviction ($50,000 for each year he was in custody). Per AP’s report, he may have to pay it back upon the settlement with Detroit.

Ricks previously told The Detroit Free Press he still had the spirit of his 26-year-old self inside of him noted how much he missed out on being in prison. But now, at 56, he’s coming home to a brand new life.

“It’s a blessing to be alive with my children and grandchildren. It was a blessing to not lose my life in there,” Ricks told AP News.

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