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Missouri man who spent nearly 28 years in prison on a wrongful conviction sues St. Louis, police

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A Missouri man who spent nearly 28 years in prison until a judge determined he was wrongfully convicted filed a lawsuit on Wednesday, alleging that St. Louis police officers “detained, arrested, and framed him for a murder he did not commit.”

Lamar Johnson, 50, seeks unspecified damages in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in St. Louis. It names the city of St. Louis and eight police officers.

“I am grateful to be free and I’m doing my best to make up for all the time that was stolen from me and my family, especially my daughters. I want to put this dark and painful chapter behind me, but there can be no healing without answers and accountability,” Johnson said in a statement provided by his lawyers.

Emma Freudenberger, an attorney for Johnson, said the lawsuit seeks accountability.

“Even after the Court declared his innocence, there have been no apologies and no consequences,” Freudenberger said in a statement. "The City of St. Louis cannot continue to simply ignore the glaring police misconduct that has caused Mr. Johnson and his family so much harm.”

Messages left Wednesday with St. Louis police and the mayor's office weren't immediately returned.

Marcus Boyd was shot to death in October 1994 on his front porch by two masked men. Police and prosecutors said Johnson killed him in a dispute over drug money. Johnson maintained his innocence from the outset, but was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

Then-Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner filed a motion in August 2022 seeking Johnson’s release after an investigation her office conducted with help from the Innocence Project convinced her he was innocent. At a hearing in December 2022, another man testified that it was he — and not Johnson — who joined a second man in the killing.

A witness to the killing testified that he was “bullied” and “pressured” by police into naming Johnson as one of the shooters. And, Johnson's girlfriend at the time of the crime testified that they were together that night except for about a five-minute span — not enough time for Johnson to get to Boyd's home.

St. Louis Circuit Judge David Mason ruled in February that the conviction was wrongful, and Johnson was freed.

“Johnson was a young father who was working and attending college when Defendants detained, arrested, and framed him for a murder he did not commit,” the lawsuit states.