The Richard Rosario Story - Part 3 | Social Justice Matters
The Richard Rosario interview continues with life after exoneration. Rosarios shares the how he faces and conquers the challenges faced after a grossly negligent ‘Injustice’ system rips away 20 years of his life. How does Richard re-adjust to society? How does he reconnect with his son and daughter after 20 years, when they were infants at the time he was sent to prison?
Cleared of a Bronx murder for which he spent 20 years behind bars, now represented by the Neufeld, Scheck, & Brustin law firm, Richard Rosario is towing the city to court for ignoring 13 alibi witnesses who could testify that he was in Florida in June 1996 when the 20-year-old learned he was wanted in the Bronx for murder. That month, two unknown assailants, one Hispanic and one black, shot 17-year-old Jorge Collazo in the head on Turnbull Avenue. No physical evidence tied Rosario to the crime and 13 people supported his alibi. Several of these witnesses — among them a sheriff’s deputy, Rosario’s pastor and a corrections officer friend — reportedly passed polygraph tests. Despite this, Rosario was found guilty in 1998 of the murder. Filing suit in Bronx County Supreme Court, he claims that this conviction was the product of witness coercion, suppressed evidence, and a “flimsy case” in which police failed to follow up on alternate leads.
Rosario also accuses officers of fabricating evidence, failing to properly investigate his alibi, and failing to investigate the accomplice in Collazo’s murder. The case against Rosario was based on false and fabricated identifications and any investigation into the true perpetrator would have undermined their evidence and risked exposing their misconduct,” the 38-page complaint states. During hours-long questioning, Rosario says police tried to “browbeat” a confession out of him by slamming pictures of Collazo’s body on the table and threatening to take away Rosario’s wife and children for the rest of his life. Rosario also alleges police coerced testimony against him from witnesses.
After 20 years served, Rosario was released in March 2016 based on DA Clark’s conclusion that he had not received a fair trial. The indictment was officially dismissed roughly seven months later.
The complaint, which names as defendants New York City and six NYPD police officers, seeks an unspecified amount in compensatory and punitive damages for malicious prosecution and civil rights conspiracy. Emma Freudenberger, an attorney for Rosario at Neufeld Scheck, said in an interview that the misconduct described in the lawsuit “is just the tip of the iceberg.” A spokesman for the New York City Law Department declined to comment on the case.