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He Spent 6 Years In Prison After Police Framed Him for Murder; Now He’ll Receive $10M Settlement

San Francisco Man Gets $10M

Jamal Trulove, who appeared on Vh1 reality show “I Love New York,” spent six years behind bars for a murder he didn’t commit. (Photo via National Registry of Exonerations)

A San Francisco man walked away $10 million dollars richer Friday after a federal court jury awarded him damages in a wrongful murder conviction that landed him behind bars.

Jamal Trulove, 33, accused four San Francisco police officers of framing him in the death of a friend at a public housing development in 2007, the San Francisco Gate reported. An eight-member jury affirmed Trulove’s suspicions on Friday, unanimously finding that the two lead inspectors on the case, Maureen D’Amico and Michael Johnson, fabricated evidence against the defendant and withheld evidence that might have helped him prove his innocence.

Trulove spent six years in prison before his murder conviction was tossed out, according to the newspaper.

“It’s about time,” said Kate Chatfield, one of Trulove’s attorneys. “Justice is not (merely) being acquitted for a crime you did not do. This was finally justice.”

The jury found no wrongdoing by a third inspector or the crime-scene investigator in the case. All four officers are retired now, however, and the city will pay the damages.

Trulove was convicted in 2010 and sentenced to 50 years to life in prison for the murder of his friend, Seu Kuka, who was fatally shot in the back. A neighbor who testified claimed she saw Trulove chase down Kuka and shoot him after a heated argument. She assured officers he was the shooter after Trulove starred as a guest on the Vh1 reality show “I Love New York.”

An appeals court would overturn Trulove’s conviction in 2014 and a re-trial resulted in a jury acquittal the following year. The reality TV star filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city after his release, in which he accused officers of coercing witness Priscilla Lualemaga, then 24, to identify him.

According to District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, officers showed Lualemga several photos of potential suspects, including Trulove, soon after Kuka’s murder. Johnson, one of the lead inspectors, reportedly pointed to a clipboard and asked the witness, “Are you sure it wasn’t Jamal Trulove?” Lualemaga said she was unsure, the judge said.

Johnson later showed her Trulove’s photo, along with other folks who she had already dismissed as suspects.

Meanwhile, Inspector D’Amico reportedly showed Lualemaga a single photo of Trulove rather than the usual array of potential suspects, from which she would identify a shooter. Gonzalez Rogers, whose February ruling allowed Trulove’s civil rights lawsuit to go to trial, said there was also evidence that both officers were aware of another possible suspect — one who was never investigated in the shooting.

Justice has been a long time coming for Trulove, who attorney Alex Reisman said burst into tears at news of the jury’s decision last week.

“When we won the acquittal for Jamal for a crime that he didn’t commit, that wasn’t really justice, that was what should have happened,” Reisman told KQED Radio. “… But when he won this verdict, I think he feels that at least some measure of justice was done for him.”

John Coté, a spokesman for City Attorney Dennis Herrera, called the verdict disappointing, however, and said the city is analyzing the jury’s findings and will determine how to move forward from there.

“Our goal is always to ensure that justice is served,” Coté said.

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