City Offers Black Man $2.2 Milli After He Served 27 Years For Wrongful Rape Conviction
Posted on August 13th, 2010 - By Bossip Staff
What would you do if you spent 27 years in jail for a rape you didn’t commit: If you had to fend off grown men, fight every day, eat crap around the clock or miss your own mother’s funeral? These are the questions running through the mind of Michael A. Greene, a man who was just exonerated and released after serving his entire adult life in prison.
Mr. Green, 45, was set free by a state judge two weeks ago after DNA tests on the rape victim’s clothing proved that he could not have been responsible for the crime. His exoneration was the work of a new unit in the Harris County district attorney’s office dedicated to reviewing claims of innocence.
Since he’s been released, he has had to decide whether to take a $2.2 million compensation payment from the State of Texas or file a civil lawsuit in the hope of exposing the truth about the investigation that led to his incarceration. To receive the compensation, he must waive the right to sue.
“What I really need to do is to make them pay for what they done to me,” he says. “Two-point-two million dollars is nothing when it comes to 27 years of my life, which I spent with mental torture and physical abuse.”
The story of Mr. Green’s nightmarish imprisonment — and how a prosecutor, Alicia O’Neill, eventually unearthed biological evidence that led to the real culprits — throws a harsh spotlight on an uncomfortable reality in American justice: the identification of a suspect in a lineup or in an array of photos is not always reliable.
He was walking home on April 18, 1983, the night a white woman was abducted and raped in his neighborhood by four black men in a stolen Camaro. He was one of several young men stopped by the police, but the victim could not identify him.
A week later, however, he was arrested after stealing a car and smashing it up. Detectives showed the victim Mr. Green’s mug shot, along with several other photos, and she said he might be one of her attackers. Later the same day, she picked him out of a lineup of five men.
He heard her scream from behind the mirrored glass when it was his turn to step forward in the lineup. He began cursing and yelling at the police.
“I got so mad, because I recognized it was a setup,” he said. “Then one of the police said: ‘I don’t know what you are mad about. I didn’t rape her. You did.’ ”
Mr. Green spit in the officer’s face, the first of many defiant acts.
A few days later, he turned down an offer from a prosecutor to plead guilty and serve five years for the rape, Mr. Green said. He recalls the trial as a surreal experience. It was the victim’s word against his. On the stand, she pointed him out again. He told the jury that he was innocent, but they did not believe him.
At 18 years old, he was sentenced to 75 years.
Over the years, Mr. Greene endured many attempts on his life, including one by a white supremacist gang leader seeking vengeance on behalf of the victim. Fortunately, his was one of many cases reviewed by the Innocence Project. They helped him get the DNA tests that ultimately led to his freedom.
They have since offered him a job as a paralegal with the Innocence Project of Texas. He says he plans to dedicate his time to “getting more innocent dudes out.”
D*mn. Brothas take note, spitting in the face of a cop can get you 27 years, innocent or not. So what would y’all take the deal for $2.2 milli or go hard for more bread?