DC awards Donald Eugene Gates $16.65 million

Wrongly convicted man awarded $16.65 million settlement

The District of Columbia has agreed to $16.65 million to a wrongly convicted man.

Donald Eugene Gates spent 27 years in prison for a rape and murder he didn’t commit after two police officers withheld and fabricated evidence leading to his conviction.

Via ABC News:

The amount is about $617,000 for every year Donald Eugene Gates spent in prison. Gates was freed in 2009 after DNA evidence cleared him in the 1981 rape and murder of 21-year-old Georgetown University student Catherine Schilling. A federal jury on Wednesday found that two city police officers fabricated and withheld evidence in the case, and city officials agreed to a settlement Thursday as the jury was getting ready to decide damages in the case.

The 64-year-old Gates, who now lives inĀ Tennessee, previously received more than $1 million from the federal government for its role in his conviction. The settlement with the city brings his total compensation to $18 million.

Gates said in a telephone interview Thursday that he was “elated” with the settlement.

“Today, justice was served. Long-awaited justice was served,” Gates said.

Gates said he’s been dealing with medical issues and hasn’t had a social life since he left prison, but he said he does go to church and that it was God who “walked with me through all those years” in prison and since then.

Of the settlement, he said: “I’m going to put it to good use, that’s for sure.”

The District of Columbia’s Office of the Attorney General had defended the actions of police in the case. After the settlement, Attorney General Karl Racine said in a statement: “No amount of money can compensate Mr. Gates for his loss of freedom. Mr. Gates has shown extraordinary fortitude and dignity, and we wish him well as he proceeds with his life.”

Gates’ conviction has been criticized over the years by his lawyers for a series of flaws. His conviction was based in part on the testimony of FBI hair analyst Michael P. Malone, whose work came under fire in the late 1990s. Malone testified that hair from Gates matched hair found on the victim’s body, which was found in Washington’s Rock Creek Park. But an FBI inspector general report later found that Malone gave false testimony in another case. And the hair analysis technique he used has also been discredited.

Gates’ lawyers filed a civil lawsuit against the city and police in late 2010 alleging police misconduct in the case.

There is no amount of money that could compensate Donald Gates on the 27 years of his life he lost, however, I’m happy to see him receive some type of restitution.

Your thoughts?

Scoop: ABC News

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