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Wrongly Imprisoned Massachusetts Man Settles Suit Against City For $2,450,000

On October 14, 2005, the City of Chicopee, Massachusetts, paid $2,450,000 to settle with a man who was falsely convicted of rape and imprisoned for 14 years before DNA evidence exonerated him.

Eduardo Velazquez was convicted in 1987 of raping a college student at knife point and sentenced to prison. He remained there for 14 years until DNA testing revealed he was not the perpetrator.

Velazquez sued the City of Chicopee and six police officers--James Pollard, Dennis Fontaine, Ron Landry, Mark Coelho, Michael Carroll, and Jeanne Norwalk--for improper procedures. Velazquez claimed the officers suppressed clearly exculpatory evidence, including a car-towing report and police call sheets that showed he was being questioned by cops in another matter while the rape was occurring several blocks away. Moreover, Velazquez claimed that after the victim reported the rape police officers coaxed her into identifying him as the assailant through a grossly improper one-on-one show up at her residence.

The City settled without admitting liability. Velazquez was 21 when he went to prison. He was 39 when the case settled.

Velazquez previously settled with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for the statutory maximum of $500,000. He was represented by Mark H. Bluver of Springfield. U.S. District Court Judge Michael A. Ponsor presided. See: Velazquez v. City of Chicopee, USDC D MA, Case No. 3:03-CV-30249-MAP.

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Related legal case

Velazquez v. City of Chicopee