3 men reach $18 million settlement with Cleveland for wrongful imprisonment in connection to 1975 murder

Left to right: Wiley Bridgeman and his brother Ronnie, Rickey Jackson
Left to right: Wiley Bridgeman and his brother Ronnie, Rickey Jackson(Source: AP Images)
Updated: May. 8, 2020 at 10:53 AM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Three men who were wrongfully convicted and imprisoned in connection to a 1975 deadly robbery have reached a multi-million dollar settlement with the city of Cleveland.

According to the attorneys for 63-year-old Rickey Jackson, 65-year-old Wiley Bridgeman, and his 62-year-old brother Kwame Ajamu, who is formerly known as Ronnie Bridgeman, resolved the civil lawsuit against the city for an $18 million settlement for police misconduct, falsifying evidence, and coercing a witness.

The three men, who were 17, 20, and 18 years old at the time, were accused and eventually convicted for the robbery and murder of Harold Franks in 1975.

The convictions of Jackson and the Bridgeman brothers were based on coerced testimony from a 12-year-old boy, according to their attorneys. The witness eventually came forward and admitted that Cleveland police coerced him to provide false testimony in the murder trial.

Jackson and the Bridgeman brothers were all exonerated and released in 2014.

“For 45 years, our clients never gave up hope that someday their nightmare would be over,” said attorney Terry Gilbert. “That time has come with this final resolution providing some measure of justice and closure. But the physical and emotional trauma our clients were forced to endure is an example of the deep flaws of a racist criminal legal system focused on results rather than truth and justice.”

The civil trial against the city of Cleveland and the detectives who caused the wrongful convictions was originally scheduled to go to trial in federal court in the summer of 2020.

The $18 million settlement is the largest resolution in Ohio history, according to the attorneys.

In an unrelated case, Wiley Bridgeman was indicted in May 2019 for a deadly hit-and-run crash that occurred in University Heights.

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