NEW YORK (PIX11) — Three men who spent a combined 66 years behind bars for crimes they did not commit are again urging investigators to reopen cases handled by an allegedly corrupt former detective.
“Wrongful convictions don’t happen by mistake, evidence is hidden. The need to get a conviction by prosecutors and the judges who allow tainted evidence before jury after jury after jury are responsible,” said Lonnie Soury, founder of FalseConfessions.org, an advocacy group that aims to raise awareness of false confessions and subsequent wrongful convictions.
Soury and three wrongfully convicted men pointed the finger again Thursday morning at former NYPD Detective Louis Scarcella, who worked with the Brooklyn North homicide unit and whose cases were ordered reviewed last year.
The current Brooklyn district attorney has at least 50 potentially botched cases in front of him that are related to Scarcella, Soury said.
He’s urging Brooklyn DA Kenneth P. Thompson to step up his review of those cases and consider adopting groundbreaking legal techniques that are now being used in Dallas, where some 44 people have had their convictions overturned.
Changes Soury and his team want to see in New York include recording of all police interrogations, and using double-blind line ups so the detectives cannot see who is before the witness, which could decrease incidents of coercion, Soury said.
The renewed call comes the same week a Brooklyn man was freed after spending 24 years in prison for a murder that he did not commit.
“We want to be patient but we’ve been patient for decades,” Soury said.
In a statement to PIX11 News, Thompson emphasized the need for that impatience.
“This important work by our newly created Conviction Review Unit is being done fairly and with integrity and has already led to the release of some defendants,” Thompson said.
“And while we understand the need to work quickly, we are not willing to sacrifice speed for thoroughness in the pursuit of justice.”
Scarcella could not be reached for comment.