Man wrongfully imprisoned for nearly 20 years now suing Detroit detectives

Posted at 5:53 AM, Aug 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-07 17:30:33-04

It’s a date that change three families forever: May 9, 1999 — a Mother’s Day where 35-year-old Lisa Kindred would be gunned down. Her family forever changed, as were the families of Justly Johnson and Kendrick Scott. The two men convicted of her murder, only to be exonerated 20 years later.

On Wednesday afternoon, a lawyer for Justly Johnson will announce details of a $100 million dollar civil lawsuit against the Detroit Police detectives accused of “framing” the two men.

“It is an egregious case of fabricating evidence for the sake of closing a case,” said attorney Wolfgang Muller. “That type of ‘end justifies the means’ mentality was typical of the DPD Homicide Unit in the late 1990’s and early 2000s.”

The case was overturned this year after the involvement of former WXYZ investigative reporter Scott Lewis, and the University of Michigan Innocence Clinic.

New evidence was uncovered that led to the Michigan Supreme Court vacating the convictions and ordering a new trial.

On November 28, 2018, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office dismissed all charges against Johnson and Scott. Key to the exoneration was the testimony of C.J. Skinner, Jr., who was eight years old at the time of the murder.

C.J., who was tracked down in Pennsylvania by investigator Scott Lewis, said he saw the shooter and testified that neither Johnson nor Scott was the shooter. He also testified that the police never spoke to him about what he saw.

According to Lewis, four people were arrested and coerced to blame Johnson and Scott. He also says that the husband of the murder victim has since asserted his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination in relation to the case.

As for Johnson, he last spoke with WXYZ the day he was exonerated.

“It's a tragedy and it's sickening that we had to suffer for 20 years in the first place,” said Johnson. “The mistakes of the Detroit Police Department and everybody involved in this, it is sad.”