New York City agrees to pay $7 million to Grant Williams, a Wu-Tang Clan studio employee convicted of 1996 murder

Comptroller Brad Lander said on Monday that New York City had agreed to pay $7 million to a man who was incarcerated on a murder charge that had not been in prison for 23 years.

Grant Williams was acquitted in the July 1996 shooting of Shudell Lewis outside the Staten Island public housing complex. CBS New York report The acquittal was the first successful false conviction on Staten Island.

Williams, in his 50s, was released on parole in 2019. After he was released on parole last year, he took the first step toward suing his poetry by filing a claim. The Comptroller’s Office has the power to settle these claims without court action, and it does so from time to time, including the 2014 death of police officer Eric Garner.

Wrong Conviction - Consensus
Grant Williams (middle left) is embraced by attorney Irving Cohen after being convicted of murder in New York on July 22, 2021.

Jan Somma-Hamel / AP

Democrat Lander said in a statement: “No matter how much money Williams or his family have, we are delighted to be able to settle this claim fairly and early.”

A request for comment has been sent to the attorney representing Williams.

The case against Williams rested primarily on the testimony of a few eyewitnesses. One was a police officer chasing a gunman, and he made an explanation that didn’t match Williams at first.

At his trial, prosecutors also tried to suggest a link between Williams and the baseball cap the shooter dropped at the scene, but the hat had not been tested for DNA that could point to the wearer. It is adorned with the logo of Wu-Tang Clan. Williams worked at the Staten Island studio in the Multiplatinum Sales Lab group.

No physical, forensic or digital evidence linked Williams to a crime, and some eyewitnesses testified that he was not a gunman.

Another witness, a friend of the victim, told investigators that Williams was not the shooter. However, the police did not inform the prosecution until he was charged.

“I fainted when I heard the verdict, I couldn’t believe it,” said Williams’ mother, Cynthia Franklin. said last year.

Williams failed to appeal his conviction several years before Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon’s office agreed to review it. Prosecutors joined Williams to ultimately dismiss Williams’ conviction, which they now believe is innocent.

Williams told reporters at the time that he never lost faith that he would be acquitted.

“I used to tell everyone in prison that I was innocent,” Williams said outside the courthouse. “They say, ‘Oh, Williams, everyone says so.’ I said, ‘I’m telling the truth. One day you’ll see me on the news and they’ll say I’m innocent’, and today is that day.”

Williams started earning an associate’s degree in prison and a bachelor’s degree, CBS New York reported.

He said he did not hold grudges last year.

“I knew it was going to happen. I never gave up,” Williams said.

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