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Carlton Wigfall

Other New York Cases with Official Misconduct
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In the early morning hours of January 23, 2010, police arrested 46-year-old Carlton Wigfall and his nephew, Antoine Wigfall, on charges of selling cocaine in Manhattan, New York.

Wigfall and his nephew were taken to the police station. Officer Neil Lawson eventually arrived and said he saw Carlton Wigfall directing customers to Antoine Wigfall, who then sold them drugs. Lawson said that he was on a 6th floor balcony with binoculars and that exactly 12:01 a.m., he saw a drug transaction occur and immediately radioed other officers who then arrested the pair. Police said they found four small packets of cocaine on the ground near where Wigfall’s nephew had been standing.

Carlton Wigfall went to trial in New York County Supreme Court in March 2011. By then, his nephew had pled guilty to possession of a controlled substance and was sentenced to probation. The prosecution’s primary witness was Officer Lawson, who testified that he identified Carlton Wigfall at the police station by his clothing because he had not seen Carlton’s face. Lawson also testified that he was on a 4th floor balcony, although his report said he was two floors higher.

Wigfall testified and denied any involvement in a drug transaction. He said that he walked out of his apartment building with his nephew and they were headed to a family member’s residence when suddenly officers swooped down and arrested them.

On March 4, 2011, a jury convicted Carlton Wigfall of third degree sale of a controlled substance. He was sentenced to four years in prison.

The Center for Appellate Litigation in New York City handled Wigfall’s appeal. His appellate attorney, Nicholas Schuman-Ortega, discovered that at the time of Wigfall’s trial, Officer Lawson was the subject of six federal lawsuits brought by people who claimed that Lawson had falsely accused them of selling narcotics. Four of those lawsuits, which involved people who were arrested, but never indicted, had been settled for a total of $116,750. Those arrests had occurred in the same neighborhood where Wigfall was arrested.

Wigfall’s attorney moved for a new trial claiming that the prosecution knew about the lawsuits and had failed to inform Wigfall’s trial defense attorney. By the time the motion was filed, the number of lawsuits filed against Lawson had risen to 12, and six had been settled for a total of more than $200,000.

On February 3, 2015, New York County Supreme Court Judge Charles Solomon vacated Carlton Wigfall’s conviction and ordered a new trial. Wigfall had been paroled on June 21, 2013.

Judge Solomon said that the case against Wigfall “hinged on Lawson’s credibility” and that there was “no question” that the lawsuit evidence was evidence that Wigfall’s trial attorney could have used to impeach Lawson’s testimony.

On November 22, 2016, the prosecution dismissed the charge. In February 2018, Wigfall filed a lawsuit in New York County Supreme Court seeking compensation.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 12/4/2016
Last Updated: 8/21/2018
State:New York
County:New York
Most Serious Crime:Drug Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2010
Convicted:2011
Exonerated:2016
Sentence:4 years
Race:Black
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:46
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No