CONCORD, N.C. — Ronnie Long, the Concord man who was exonerated last year after serving 44 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, is suing the city of Concord, the detectives who worked his original case, and the city’s current and former police chiefs, WCNC Charlotte's Michelle Boudin learned Monday.
The 88-page lawsuit alleges the action of the defendants in the suit wrongfully convicted Long and then knowingly kept him in prison despite evidence that showed he was innocent.
The suit claims the detectives on the case decided to target Long even though he did not match the description of the suspect provided by the victim. The officers had a history of animosity towards the Long family and hassled him in the past, according to the filing.
The suit alleges the Concord Police Department "investigators systematically suppressed every bit of evidence which showed there was no link between Long and the victim or the crime scene.”
The department's current former police chiefs are also named in the suit.
Both the City of Concord and their current police chief, Gary Gacek, said they could not comment on a pending lawsuit.
WCNC Charlotte is working to make contact with those named in the lawsuit to request comments from those individuals.
Ronnie Long was just 21 years old when an all-white jury in Concord convicted him for a rape he always insisted he didn’t commit.
Decades after his trial, his attorneys discovered the Concord Police Department hid evidence in the case that ruled him out as a suspect — officers even lied on the witness stand.
Last August the courts ruled Ronnie Long had been wrongfully convicted and he was freed 44 years after he was sent to prison. In December, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper pardoned Long making way for the 65-year-old to get compensation from the state. He received $750,000 last month.
"North Carolina intentionally put me in the penitentiary and you tell me $750,000 is worth 44 years of my life?" Long previously told WCNC Charlotte.
The amount Long received is based on a North Carolina state statute outlining the state will pay someone who was wrongfully convicted $50,000 a year for their time in prison. The amount is capped at $750,000. That means Long got nothing for more than two-thirds of the time he was behind bars.
"That cap is completely inadequate when you can consider people losing so much time in their lives," Jamie Lau, the supervising attorney for the Duke Law Wrongful Convictions Clinic and Long's criminal attorney, told WCNC Charlotte last month.
WCNC Charlotte's coverage timeline of the Ronnie Long case:
- November 2009: Concord man gets second day in court after 32 years
- March 2010: NC Supreme Court hears appeal from Concord man
- August 2014: Prison wedding for Concord lifer claiming innocence
- February 2020: Wrongfully convicted? Concord man has new hope for appeal after 44 years
- March 2020: Concord man serving for crime he says he didn't commit has to wait longer for appeal due to COVID-19
- April 2020: Update: Concord man claiming innocence will get his day in court — virtually
- May 2020: Concord man claiming innocence will get his day in court virtually on Thursday
- May 2020: 44 years later, Concord man's innocence argued in appeals court
- June 2020: 'We know this is a racial injustice' | Renewed plea to release Concord man claiming innocence
- July 2020: "I'm struggling to stay alive" | Concord man loses his mom while in prison and awaiting a decision on his freedom
- August 2020: 44 years later, federal appeals court rules the rights of Concord man were violated at trial
- August 2020: 'This is the epitome of injustice' | NC NAACP president calls for immediate release of Ronnie Long
- August 2020: 'I’ve been crying happy tears' | A man who maintained his innocence for 44 years to be freed from prison
- August 2020: Ronnie Long is now a free man after maintaining his innocence for 44 years
- August 2020: Ronnie Long's son was just 3 years old when his father was arrested. Now he's ready to make new memories
- August 2020: Wife: Ronnie Long wants to 'eat a steak first thing' after 44 years in prison, attorney plans to request pardon of innocence from governor
- August 2020: Cabarrus County won't retry Ronnie Long case, ending decades-long fight for freedom
- December 2020: Gov. Roy Cooper granted a pardon of innocence for Ronnie Long
- April 2021: Ronnie Long says $750,000 is not enough after spending 44 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit