A Detroit man who served 25 years in prison for murder based on sham evidence has filed a lawsuit seeking more than $125million.
Desmond Ricks was released in May after making the extraordinary claim that Detroit Police framed him for a fatal shooting that killed Gerry Bennett outside a restaurant in 1992. A judge reviewed the evidence and he was exonerated.
An analysis of two bullets from the victim shows they don’t match the gun that was offered as the murder weapon at Ricks’ trial in 1992. He was accused of shooting a friend outside a Detroit restaurant and sentenced to at least 32 years in prison.
Attorney Wolfgang Mueller says Ricks was a victim of ‘horrific’ misconduct. He filed a lawsuit in federal court Wednesday on behalf of Ricks and two daughters.
The suit names two defendants who are retired Detroit police officers. David Pauch was the evidence technician on the case. Donald Stawiasz was the officer in charge of the investigation that led to Ricks’ wrongful conviction.
The lawsuit argues that the duo framed Ricks by fabricating bullet evidence – swapping out the bullets taken from the victim’s body with bullets test-fired from a gun belonging to Ricks’ mother.
At trial, prosecutors said a gun belonging to Ricks’ mother was used in the slaying. But tests on bullets still in police storage eliminated any connection.
Ricks worked with a team from University of Michigan law school and a gun expert. They claimed Detroit police framed Ricks for the slaying with sham evidence – bullets that didn’t come from the victim.
‘I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I had nothing to do with this,’ Ricks, 50, said, referring to the shooting of a friend outside a burger dive.
‘They switched the bullets on me,’ he said.
The expert remembered the case, visited Ricks three times and told him about some nagging concerns.
All charges were dropped on June 1.
An investigation showed the bullets from Bennett were still in police storage. Tests in recent weeks show they do not match the .38-caliber gun that belonged to Ricks’ mother in 1992.
‘I don’t have time to be angry or mad,’ Ricks said outside court. ‘I just want to live.’
He likely will benefit from a new Michigan law that awards someone who is wrongly convicted $50,000 for each year spent in prison.