Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced the exoneration of Malcolm Bryant who was convicted of killing a 16 year old girl in 1998 and has served 17 years of a life sentence. (Karl Merton Ferron, Baltimore Sun video)
The family of a Baltimore man who was exonerated of murder charges through the Maryland Innocence Project has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Baltimore Police Department.
The suit alleges Ritz failed to disclose knowledge of an eyewitness to Bullock’s death, whose account contradicted and undermined testimony from the only eyewitness at trial. Ritz also allegedly failed to disclose multiple pieces of evidence pointing to another possible suspect in the case.
The suit states Verger allegedly failed to examine the fingernail clippings for DNA and falsely reported the fingernails were consumed, meaning no further testing was possible.
In November, a voluntary collaboration between the Innocence Project, the state’s attorney office, police and the Maryland Office of the Public Defender released a consensus report on the investigation into Bullock’s death, which acknowledged apparent deviations from proper police practices, the suit states.
The report also claimed police failed to adequately investigate Bryant’s alibi as well as the second possible suspect, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit is brought by Bryant’s sons Lamar Estep and Malique Bryant, who are seeking unspecified damages, compensation for attorneys fees and punitive damages against each defendant.
Anna Benvenutti Hoffmann, an attorney with New York-based law firm Neufeld Scheck & Brustin, is among the attorneys representing the Bryant family. Her firm has been working on the case since shortly after his release.
“We got to know him but unfortunately shortly thereafter he passed away less than a year after he was released,” Hoffmann said. “The entire situation of this wrongful conviction is tragic, but that just augments the tragedy.”
She said one of Bryant’s motivations in bringing the case was providing for his sons, which he was unable to do in prison. She hopes the lawsuit fulfills that wish, while exposing patterns of wrongful convictions by the Baltimore Police Department.
“We see this as part of a pattern, and so we think that this is important to shed light on it, to hold the city in part responsible on its role in permitting this kind of conduct to go forward,” she said.