Man Sues for $50 Million in a Wrongful Conviction Case From 1995

( — One of the three men wrongly convicted of the 1995 murder of a New York City subway booth clerk filed a lawsuit against the city and two retired detectives, claiming that law enforcement’s “wanton and reckless” culture kept him in prison for decades and left him with grave psychological damage, the Associated Press reported.

Thomas Malik is one of three men who spent nearly 27 years in prison for the brutal murder of Harry Kaufman before prosecutors disavowed the three convictions last year.

Malik, who is suing for at least $50 million, claims in the lawsuit to be seeking “redress for the official misconduct” that landed him in prison for nearly three decades as well as physical and mental injuries sustained while behind bars.

Malik’s former co-defendants, James Irons and Vincent Ellerbe, have also sought compensation for their wrongful convictions. Ellerbe settled with the NYC comptroller for an undisclosed sum. Irons has filed a case with the state Court of Claims and is pursuing a federal lawsuit.

Subway clerk Harry Kaufman was killed during an attempted robbery while working an overnight shift in a Brooklyn Subway station on November 26, 1995. The attackers squirted gasoline through the coin slot of the booth and then ignited it, setting Kaufman on fire.

Last year, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office concluded that the convictions of Malik, Ellerbe, and Irons were based on contradictory and false confessions and other flawed evidence. The three men long maintained that they were coerced into confessing to the horrific murder.

Named in the lawsuit are former NYPD detectives Stephen Chmil and Louis Scarcella, who worked on the investigation, with Chmil as the lead detective and Scarcella obtaining Malik’s confession.

In recent years, the two partners, now retired, have been accused of repeatedly forcing confessions and framing suspects. Over a dozen convictions in Scarcella’s investigations have since been overturned.

The detectives have denied any wrongdoing.

According to the lawsuit, the high-profile case made Malik, who was only 18 at the time, a target of assaults and abuse in prison. The now 46-year-old Malik, who lives out of state, said prison left him so mentally scarred that he barely leaves his home.

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