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Dhoruba bin Wahad

Other Manhattan Exonerations
In May 1971, two uniformed New York City police officers in a marked police car were shot repeatedly with a .45 caliber machine gun.  Both officers survived, but neither could provide a description of the assailants.

Later that same year, Dhoruba bin Wahad was arrested while robbing a Bronx social club.  Wahad, then known as Richard Moore, was a field secretary for the New York chapter of the Black Panthers.

Police found a .45-caliber machine gun in Wahad’s possession, and ballistics testing confirmed it the same gun used in the May shooting. Police were also able to match Wahad’s fingerprints to a note claiming responsibility for the shootings that was left with a newspaper office.

An anonymous tip led police to an informant who testified that she saw Wahad immediately before and after the shooting, and that his gun was still warm when she saw him after the shooting. The prosecution argued that Wahad had planned and carried out the shooting because, as a member of the Blank Panthers, he hated the police.

Wahad’s first trial ended in a mistrial when the jury was unable to reach a unanimous decision.

After a second trial in 1973, a jury convicted Wahad of attempted murder and felonious possession of a firearm, and he was sentenced to 25 years in prison. 
After his conviction, defense lawyers discovered that prosecutors failed to turn over statements of witnesses that might have been used to impeach the witnesses' testimony at trial. In March 1990, Wahad’s conviction was overturned because of the prosecution’s failure to disclose this exculpatory evidence, and he was released.

The prosecution appealed the decision and it was upheld in January 1993 in a ruling that said that the statements of the prosecution's key witness, Pauline Joseph, that were not disclosed included statements which "depart significantly from some of her most crucial testimony, and that testimony was essential" to the prosecution's theory of the case.

The prosecution then announced that they would not retry Wahad.

Wahad sued both the FBI and the New York Police Department and ultimately received a total of almost $900,000.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date:  Before June 2012
Last Updated: 2/15/2017
State:New York
County:New York
Most Serious Crime:Attempted Murder
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:1971
Sentence:25 to Life
Age at the date of reported crime:26
Contributing Factors:False or Misleading Forensic Evidence, Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No