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Man wrongly imprisoned for 1999 murder sues Detroit Police Department, 4 officers

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Detroit — The second of two men who were wrongfully imprisoned for nearly 20 years is suing the Detroit Police Department and four officers.

Kendrick Scott claims in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Detroit that the department and four officers coerced two teens into implicating him and Justly Johnson in the fatal Mother's Day shooting of Lisa Steinberg Kindred, 35, of Roseville.

"Detroit Police Department officers stole nearly twenty years of Mr. Scott’s life by fabricating inculpatory witness statements and hiding exculpatory ones," the suit says. "As a direct result of the police fabricating and suppressing evidence, Mr. Scott was denied the most basic of his constitutional and fundamental human rights: his liberty."

Kendrick Scott walks out of the Wayne County jail and into his mother's waiting arms on Nov. 28, 2018, after spending nearly 20 years in prison for a crime that he didn't commit.

Scott's lawsuit comes about 10 months after a judge released him and Johnson from prison after the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office dismissed the case against them.

Scott names four Detroit police officers — Catherine Adams, Barbara Simon, Rodney Jackson and Sgt. Wayne Pritchett — as defendants. Scott is seeking damages to be determined by a jury. 

"No amount of money can properly compensate Mr. Scott for the loss of 20 years of his life,” said Zoe Salzman, a partner with Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady, the New York legal firm representing Scott in the suit.

Ashok Chandran, an attorney with the firm, added: "Mr. Scott’s story is tragic for its familiarity: a young black man, framed by police through a pattern of egregious misconduct, lost nearly two decades of his life for no reason.”

Detroit police Sgt. Nicole Kirkwood declined to comment, citing department policy prohibiting officers from discussing pending litigation.

Scott's lawsuit also comes about two weeks after Johnson filed a similar claim against the Police Department and two officers. Johnson is seeking at least $50 million in compensatory damages, plus $30 million in punitive damages from Adams and $20 million in punitive damages from Simon.

Police said Kindred, a mother of three, was shot around 12:30 a.m. May 9, 1999, as she waited in a minivan with her young children for her husband, who was in a house on Bewick Street on the city’s east side. She died of a single gunshot to the heart. Her husband was in the house discussing the sale of a motorcycle to his brother-in-law.

The next day, police officers conducted a sweep of the area and picked up four men, including Johnson and Scott.

On June 1, 2000, Scott was convicted of murder, assault and criminal possession of a firearm, according to the complaint. He was sentenced to life in prison.

According to court documents, two teens told police that Scott and Johnson had killed Kindred but later recanted their statements, saying they felt pressured to give false accounts.

Twitter: @CharlesERamirez