NOVI, Mich. (FOX 2) - A wrongfully convicted man who spent 20 years in prison is suing the Detroit Police Department for $100 million, claiming officers framed him and his friend.
Last November, Justly Johnson and his friend Kendrick Scott were released after their convictions were overturned by the Michigan Supreme Court.
Johnson's attorney is now suing Barbara Simon, a retired Detroit homicide detective, and Catherine Adams, the retired police officer in charge of the Lisa Steinberg Kindred murder case in 1999.
"What we've seen is the culture of the homicide section in the 90's and early 2000's were (to) round up everybody in the neighborhood, which is what happened here, and we'll hold you, without charging, until somebody either confesses or implicates someone else," said attorney Wolf Mueller.
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The murder victim was a 35-year-old Roseville mother shot to death on Mother's Day in Detroit while she waited for her husband with her three young children in the family minivan.
Scott Lewis was a Fox 2 investigative reporter in 2009 when Johnson first contacted him about the case, Lewis is now a private investigator.
"I tracked down C.J. Skinner, the victim's son, who was 8 at the time. He was inside the van when the shooting happened," he said.
All those years ago, Detroit police never interviewed CJ.
"So the Michigan Innocence Clinic jumped in, and they went to see C.J., who was himself incarcerated in Pennsylvania. And they showed him a photo lineup, and Justly and Kendrick were in the lineup. And he said, neither of those two men are the guy that shot my mom," Lewis said.
Over the years, Lewis and Johnson became close.
"Scott has been a blessing. He has not only as an investigator but a friend," Johnson said. "I remember when he and his wife came to visit me, they told me that we're not giving up on you. We're going to be there when you walk out that gate. That was so motivating and inspiring because you just want someone to believe in you."
And even though the lawsuit is for $100 million, Johnson says it's not about the money.
"The money doesn't help. The money brings awareness. It's like, OK, if we keep doing this to individuals, this is what's going to happen. ... You cannot put a price on what I have lost," he said.
FOX 2 was not able to get in touch with the two defendants in the case. After all these years, the question remains: Who really killed Lisa Steinberg Kindred?
"Every time put the wrong person in prison for a murder, there's a murderer still out there on the street. Obviously, in this case, there's a killer who is still out on the street. Whether that person ought to be brought to justice, I don't know. I'd like to see it happen," Lewis said.