Long Island man wrongly convicted sues - police malpractice

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ASPartOfMe
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20 Jul 2022, 6:14 pm

Behind a paywall
Rodolfo Taylor, wrongfully convicted of robberies, talks about ordeal

Quote:
The cold, empty cell. The lousy food. The wasted years that became lost decades.

And the family milestones — births, graduations, weddings and funerals — that would go on without Rodolfo Taylor as he sat in prison for decades for a series of gas station robberies in Central Islip and Brentwood that he did not commit.

"Some days it was just unbearable," Taylor, 61, said Tuesday in Garden City, as his legal team announced a $55 million federal civil rights lawsuit against Suffolk County and 10 former police officers.

The suit, which was filed in U.S. Eastern District Court in Central Islip, cites evidence pointing to several other suspects that law enforcement never shared with the defense.

In January, a Suffolk judge vacated the former Central Islip resident's robbery convictions after an investigation by the Suffolk district attorney's Conviction Integrity Unit found five witnesses to the robberies originally identified other suspects or said they could not identify anyone for the crime.

Taylor was arrested in 1984 and convicted at two trials. He was released from prison in February 2010.

"All of my siblings have children," Taylor said. "I missed all of their births. I missed sweet sixteens. I missed their weddings and graduations. The funerals of my great-grandmother, my father. And the whole time, I'm telling these people I had nothing to do with any of this.”

Attorney Bruce Barket, who is representing Taylor in the civil case, said his client was not the victim of mistaken identify or of human error.

"He spent [decades] in prison because the Suffolk County Police Department and a number of its detectives hid information from him that would have exonerated him; that would have prevented his wrongful conviction," said Barket, who also plans to file a civil suit in state court. " … This is police officers doing something they know is wrong at the time. They're doing it to obtain a conviction, which they have to understand is suspect."

Taylor was arrested in 1984 and convicted at two trials. He was released from prison in February 2010.

"All of my siblings have children," Taylor said. "I missed all of their births. I missed sweet sixteens. I missed their weddings and graduations. The funerals of my great-grandmother, my father. And the whole time, I'm telling these people I had nothing to do with any of this.”

Attorney Bruce Barket, who is representing Taylor in the civil case, said his client was not the victim of mistaken identify or of human error.

"He spent [decades] in prison because the Suffolk County Police Department and a number of its detectives hid information from him that would have exonerated him; that would have prevented his wrongful conviction," said Barket, who also plans to file a civil suit in state court. " … This is police officers doing something they know is wrong at the time. They're doing it to obtain a conviction, which they have to understand is suspect."

Representatives for Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and the Suffolk Police Department declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.

In 1984, Suffolk police began to investigate a series of gas station robberies that were reportedly committed by the same individual between Feb. 22 and June 10.

During the initial investigation, witnesses and gas station employees initially identified different suspects out of a photo lineup and provided varying descriptions of the culprit.

But the suit alleges that Suffolk detectives, anxious to close the case, showed a witness — who previously told police he could not identify anyone — photos of Taylor and "used suggestive techniques" to direct the blame at him.

Authorities later gathered all five eyewitnesses together and secured a positive lineup identification of Taylor, the suit contends.

Taylor was convicted during his first trial for two robberies. He was sentenced to 9 to 18 years in prison.

After rejecting a plea on the third robbery charge, he was convicted and sentenced to 9 to 18 years in prison — to be served consecutively with the first case.

For decades, Taylor refused to accept responsibility for the crimes and was denied parole because he did not express remorse.

The incarceration also placed an intense strain on Taylor's family.

Taylor's sister, Dinorah Nino, said she faced ridicule from friends and lost job opportunities because of her brother's conviction. On Tuesday, she said she felt grateful the "truth has finally come out. Now he we can hold our heads up high."


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League_Girl
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20 Jul 2022, 7:02 pm

And he was black. What a surprise. :roll:


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