A North Carolina man who spent decades in prison was awarded $6 million in damages by a federal jury after it was found that he was wrongfully convicted thanks to evidence fabricated by a detective.
Darryl Howard languished in prison for over 20 years on double murder and arson charges in 1995 for killing a woman and her teen daughter in 1991. Last Wednesday, a jury in Winston-Salem found that former Durham police detective Darryl Dowdy simply faked the evidence that resulted in his conviction.
In 2016, Howard’s 80-year sentence was stricken down by a Durham County judge who cited the misconduct of police and prosecutors. The $6 million award was the result of a 2017 federal civil rights lawsuit filed by Howard, reports the News & Observer.
Dowdy, 65, denied the accusations in the lawsuit. The former detective was a 36-year veteran of the Durham Police Department before he retired in 2007.
Howard and his legal team have expressed satisfaction that the jury recognized the grave injustice he faced, but are disappointed that the $6 million is a mere fraction of the $48 million in damages they requested.
Attorney Nick Brustin, who represented Howard, said that Dowdy’s defense attacked Howard for his past gunshot wounds and history of selling and using drugs.
“I think to some extent the racist defense that they have been implementing since the beginning of the ligation has in some ways succeeded,” Brustin said. “I think the verdict doesn’t value the suffering that Darryl went through.”
Howard himself noted that the heavy damage dealt by his long incarceration have completely altered his life.
“I am happy about the verdict, but I am kind of upset about the damages,” Howard told the News & Reporter.
“Just imagine, 23 years I stayed in prison,” he added.
Brustin also highlighted the systemic nature of the injustice his client suffered as a result of Dowdy’s police work.
“The kinds of misconduct are pattern misconduct,” he noted, adding that Durham police need to review other cases handled by the crooked cop.
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