(WJBK) - A man convicted of murder freed after 25 years when new tests discredited evidence announced Thursday he is suing the Detroit officers he says framed him.
Gathered at Mueller Law Firm in Farmington Hills, Desmond Ricks was accompanied by attorneys and his daughter as he announced at $125 million dollar lawsuit against Detroit police.
He says Detroit Police Department Evidence technician, David Pauch, and the officer-in-charge of the investigation, Donald Stawiasz, fabricated evidence.
At the age of 27, Ricks was convicted for the 1992 murder of Gerry Bennett. It's alleged Ricks and Bennett were outside a Detroit burger restaurant when gunfire erupted. Bennett was shot in the head, but Ricks says he escaped.
He was arrested for Bennett's murder, convicted of second-degree murder, felony firearm and habitual offender second offense. Sentenced to 30-60 years, Ricks spent 25 years behind bars before the Innocence Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School took up the case.
They asked prosecutors photos of the bullets removed from Bennett and determined that they did not look like the bullets Detroit police presented as evidence in court against Ricks.
Police had seized Ricks' mother's gun after his arrest, and argued that was the murder weapon. However, the Innocence Clinic found that of the two bullets that struck the victim, one didn't match up with the gun allegedly used, and the other was too mangled to be analyzed.
Wayne County Judge Richard Skutt overturned the murder conviction on June 1, setting Ricks free. Now with the help of a Mueller Law, Ricks is seeking reparations.
During the press conference, attorneys described Ricks’ experiences and how they say police framed him. Wolf Mueller says the officers' motivation may have been simply to close a case.
"The fact that this is a competitive business - they're all trying to make a name for themselves, these homicide detectives. Corners get cut, people do unethical things frankly to get a conviction," he said.
When he was first imprisoned, Ricks says he was angry and bitter, but then became laser-focused on getting out - he did not want to die in prison. That still won't get him those 25 years back.
"I can never get the loss back. A loss is a loss," he said Thursday.
He says since he's been free, he's been working to connect with family he'd never been able to know behind bars.
"I'm learning my daughter, I'm understanding her," he said.
She sat next to him in support throughout the conference, holding her father's hand.
"I was angry before and I'm not (anymore) but I just can't imagine who else is in jail that's going through this," she said.
Even if they win the case, his daughter says no amount of money will get back the time they lost together.