The family of a man who was recently released from prison after serving 23 years for a crime he did not commit has filed a lawsuit against two retired NYPD detectives and the city of New York for $15 million.
David Ranta’s former wife and his children filed the lawsuit for loss of companionship, claiming that they were wrongly accused as the family of a murderer and wrongly denied the presence of a husband and father.
“Plaintiffs were branded as the family of a murderer and deprived the love and affection of their husband and father,” a portion of the lawsuit reads, according to the New York Daily News.
David Ranta was initially convicted in the 1990 killing of Brooklyn Hasidic rabbi and Holocaust survivor Chaskel Werzberger.
Ranta is one example of several wrongful conviction cases filed against former NYPD detective Louis Scarcella, who has been accused of coaching witnesses and fabricating confessions in order to improperly imprison several individuals. Ranta had long accused the detective of lying about his confession, while Scarcella has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
A more recent investigation discovered that Scarcella had discussed via an anonymous phone call that a jewelry robber named Joseph Astin was responsible for the crime. Astin ultimately died in a car accident, and Scarcella focused his efforts on Ranta. Astin’s wife has since claimed that her husband was responsible for the murder.
Ranta himself has already been awarded a $6.4 settlement from New York City, as the New York Times reports.
The current lawsuit filed by Ranta’s family also accuses retired NYPD homicide detective Stephen Chmil of coaching witnesses and fabricating evidence in the case against Ranta.