Innocent man Danny Colon seeks $120 million in lawsuit against two NYPD detectives and Manhattan prosecutor
A scathing $120 million lawsuit accuses two police detectives and a Manhattan prosecutor of railroading an innocent man jailed for nearly two decades in a 1989 double homicide ordered by a murderous druglord.
Danny Colon, 48, seeks roughly $7 million for each of the 17 years he spent behind bars — a stretch that saw the wrongfully convicted man spend more than one-third of his life inside a cell.
“There’s no amount of money that could compensate for being in a cell for 17 years — especially because I didn’t know if I would ever come home,” Colon told the Daily News.
Colon’s conviction was “caused by the pervasive misconduct of New York City police detectives and the Manhattan district attorney’s office. . . . Defendants engaged in a continuous pattern of extreme and outrageous conduct directed at the plaintiff,” says the suit filed Wednesday.
The 57-page complaint details how an NYPD detective known as “Rambo” pushed the case against Colon, even though he was aware — and wrote as much in a memoir — that a drug dealer responsible for dozens of murders was behind the drive-by slayings.
The dealer, Daniel (Danny Green Eyes) Core, actually testified against Colon at his 1993 murder trial, the lawsuit said.
The stunning suit also accuses an assistant district attorney of knowingly allowing witnesses to commit perjury while withholding evidence that could have established Colon’s innocence.
Officials with the NYPD and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office declined comment Wednesday.
Prosecutors cut a secret deal with one key witness to insure his cooperation by offering a lenient plea bargain, giving him a pass on weapons charges and relocating his grandparents to better city housing, the suit charges.
The witness then disappeared, only to resurface 11 years later and recant his testimony. Despite Anibel Vera’s 2004 change of heart, Colon spent another six years behind bars until he was freed on bail.
It took the district attorney another 15 months to decide not to retry Colon.
The suit filed by prominent Manhattan attorney Joel Rudin seeks $60 million in compensatory damages and another $60 million in punitive damages. The defendants are the city of New York, the city Housing Authority, the two detectives and five of their supervisors.
Colon said the suit was filed “so they won’t do this to other people in the future, and so I can have at least some compensation for what I suffered and lost from my life.”
Rudin won Colon’s freedom in a lengthy legal battle that started when Don Mattingly was playing first base for the Yankees and David Dinkins running City Hall.