Baltimore is expected to pay $125,000 to man who spent more than 16 years in prison for a 1999 murder he says he didn’t commit.
The settlement, which the city’s Board of Estimates will vote on Wednesday, stems from a 2018 lawsuit filed by Garreth Parks in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. He alleges Baltimore Police withheld and fabricated evidence that led to him being wrongfully convicted of fatally shooting one man and wounding another.
To quickly resolve the case and avoid the expense of prolonged litigation, the law department is recommending the city settle with Parks for $125,000 in return for him dismissing all claims against the police department and the 17 officers involved in investigating the case.
Parks, now 37, was arrested when he was 16 years old.
In July 1999, according to a summary of the case submitted to the spending panel, Parks went to the house of a man named Anthony Burgess to try to patch up a dispute after Burgess took a gun from another teenager. When Parks got there, the summary states, Burgess and his nephew, Charles Hill, confronted Parks and tried to rob him.
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Parks alleges that, while Burgess and Hill were trying to rob him, both men were shot. In his lawsuit, Parks says he never fired a gun, and the board’s summary of the matter says he went unarmed to the meeting.
Hill died of his injuries.
After running from the scene, Parks was stopped by police and reported he’d been robbed. The officers arrested him, and he was charged with Hill’s murder, Burgess’ shooting and handgun violations.
“Instead of being treated as the victim of a robbery," his lawsuit states, “Mr. Parks was treated as the suspect in a serious crime.”
The lawsuit alleges Burgess told police that he was the one who shot Hill, but officers suppressed that confession to pursue Parks. At Parks’ trial, Burgess testified that Parks was the shooter. A jury convicted the teenager in 2000.
The state vacated Parks’ convictions in March 2015 after he obtained a report that included an officer’s notes on Burgess’ confession, which was not disclosed during the trial.
Parks’ lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.