Cleveland to Pay $4.85M to Settle with Wrongfully Convicted Man

By | December 3, 2020

Cleveland, Ohio, has agreed to pay a man who was wrongfully convicted of killing an elderly woman and spent 11 years in prison $4.85 million to settle a lawsuit he first filed in 2012 against two city homicide detectives.

The city announced the settlement, which was first reported by cleveland.com, with 63-year-old David Ayers in an email, saying the lawsuit was “resolved” during mediation.

Ayers was convicted of aggravated murder in 2000 in the death of the woman at an apartment complex for the elderly where he worked as a security guard. His conviction was largely based on testimony from the detectives and a jailhouse informant.

The Ohio Innocence Project took up his appeal and proved that hairs found on the victim did not come from Ayers, that detectives had coached the informant and had failed to check security camera footage that would have confirmed his alibi.

Ayers was released from prison in 2011 and sued Cleveland and the two detectives in federal court. Cleveland was dismissed as a defendant and in 2013, a jury awarded Ayers a $13.2 million judgment against the detectives.

The city refused to pay Ayers on behalf of the detectives, helping one file for bankruptcy to shield her from having to pay him. The other died before the judgment could be rendered.

Ayers won a short-lived victory in state court when a judge ruled the city was responsible for paying the judgment. He then lost subsequent appeals, including one earlier this year at the Ohio Supreme Court.

Cleveland officials did not provide a response when asked to comment.

“Cleveland failed to supervise two detectives who went on to frame a man for murder and as a result spent more than a decade of his life in prison,” said Russell Ainsworth, Ayers’ Chicago-based attorney. “We appreciate Cleveland’s cooperation in bringing a resolution.”

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