The Associated Press reports that the city will pay Grant Williams $7 million. The 51-year-old has been out on parole since 2019 and his conviction was overturned last July. He was accused of killing Shdell Lewis outside a Staten Island public housing complex in 1996.
After he was cleared of the charges, he sued the city, with the comptroller’s office choosing to settle his claim out of court. “This will assist him in going forward and trying to get back on his feet,” Williams’ attorney, Irving Cohen said, adding that the city “did the right thing.” New York state also settled a different claim with Williams for $5 million.
Comptroller Brad Lander said he was happy that New York City was “able to move quickly to a fair and early resolution of this claim.”
A couple of witnesses—including a police officer—identified William as the gunman, though their description of the suspect didn’t line up with Williams. A piece of evidence that prosecutors also relied on was a Wu-Tang baseball cap left at the scene, which wasn’t tested for DNA. In the past, Williams had worked at the rap crew’s studio in Staten Island.
Other witnesses said the gunman wasn’t Williams, and the prosecution didn’t have any physical, forensic, or digital evidence that could squarely pin the shooting on him. Williams repeatedly attempted to appeal his case, with Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon finally agreeing to take a look.
“I used to tell everybody in prison I’m innocent,” Williams said outside the courthouse with Ghostface Killah by his side. “They say, ‘Oh Williams, everybody says that.’ I said, ‘I’m telling you the truth. One day you’re gonna see me on the news and they’re gonna say that I was innocent,’ and today’s that day.”