Kevin Strickland: Missouri man sues Kansas City police board after 43 years of wrongful imprisonment
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI: Kevin Strickland, 63, a Missouri man who spent more than 40 years in prison for a triple murder he did not commit, has filed a lawsuit against the Kansas City Police Board of Commissioners and five retired officers. He alleges that they conducted a reckless investigation that led to his wrongful conviction.
Strickland's lawyer, Amelia Green, said, "Despite the clear evidence of Strickland’s innocence coming to light within months of his wrongful conviction, he spent over four decades in prison for a crime he did not commit. The entire criminal justice system failed him—most egregiously, the Kansas City Police Department. This lawsuit seeks to hold the police accountable," Fox 4 reported.
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'I didn't think this day would come'
The lawsuit alleges that detectives pressured the only eyewitness, Cynthia Douglas, to name Strickland as the shooter in the triple murder case, even though they "knew or should have known" that he was innocent. The prosecution's case against Strickland rested largely on the eyewitness testimony. After Strickland refused to confess to the killings, the detectives concocted inflammatory statements they attributed to him about loving to "kill people," according to his lawsuit.
Strickland was released from prison in November 2021 after a judge ruled he was wrongfully convicted of killing three people in Kansas City in 1978. That decision followed a hearing held after Jackson County prosecutors said a review of the case led them to believe Strickland was innocent. Strickland has always maintained that he was home watching television and had nothing to do with the killings, which happened when he was 18 years old.
"I didn't think this day would come." he expressed outside the quote in 2021 soon after judges exonerated him. BBC reported at the time that Strickland's exoneration was the seventh longest wrongful sentence acknowledged in the US. It was also the longest wrongful incarceration in state history, but under Missouri law, he is unlikely to receive any financial compensation.
'This type of reckless and careless investigation will not be tolerated'
The Kansas City Police Department declined to comment on the pending lawsuit, citing the need to ensure fairness to all parties involved. "We generally do not comment on pending litigation to ensure fairness to all parties involved," the department said.
The lawsuit seeks damages for the harm Strickland suffered during his wrongful incarceration. It also seeks to hold the police accountable for their role in his wrongful conviction. Green stated, "This lawsuit seeks to hold the police accountable for their actions in Strickland's case and to send a message that this type of reckless and careless investigation will not be tolerated."