A New York City man was held in Rikers Island – New York’s main jail – for two years without being charged with any crime and now the city has paid him $1 million to settle the case, according to the New York Daily News.
Russell Hernandez reportedly was held for two years in order to force him to testify against two gang members who had tried to rob him.
But Mr Hernandez was never called to testify against the alleged gang members after he was imprisoned, and the two men improbably served less time for their crimes than Mr Hernandez was held. They pleaded guilty to attempted robbery and both got five years of probation, the Daily News reported.
The saga dates back to 4 July, 2004 when two men tried to steal Mr Hernandez’ car. He managed to get away but was stabbed in the leg during the attempted carjacking.
Police caught the men and Mr Hernandez testified against them before a grand jury, according to reports. The men who tried to rob him allegedly were members of a gang called Sex, Money, Murder, and Mr Hernandez began receiving death threats.
The New York police arrested Mr Hernandez in February 2006 for an immigration hearing based on a number of arrests in his past. He is a legal resident from Trinidad.
After his arrest, authorities brought a material witness warrant and took custody of him until May 2008, though they never charged him with a crime and never called him to testify again.
“I sat in Rikers Island for two years and I wasn’t accused of a crime,” Mr Hernandez said, according to the Daily News. “Nobody would believe me. The guards and the prisoners thought I was a spy or a snitch because when they looked me up on the computer there was no charge against me.”
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