New Yorker Held Three Years at Rikers Island Before Acquittal
A man from New York City was held three years in a Rikers Island jail before a Brooklyn jury acquitted him October 1, 2019 of a knife-point armed robbery.
Mike Colon, 51, was just eight months out of prison when four police cars slid up beside him as he was walking to a Burger King. With drawn guns, police jumped out of their cars and arrested him.
The victim had been robbed of his cellphone and other items about 20 minutes earlier. Police had used an app to trace the cellphone to Colon. But Colon was not in possession of the cellphone when he was arrested.
His attorney noted that Colon was underneath an elevated train station when he was arrested and theorized that the robber and cellphone were on the platform above him at the time.
Prosecutors countered that stolen credit cards were strewn near the arrest site and that Colon had a distinctive knife in his pocket like the one used in the robbery.
The prosecution’s case fell apart during trial. NYPD Officer Raymond Lewis, a key prosecution witness, contradicted himself several times and admitted to having been previously disciplined for fixing traffic tickets. Then the victim said he could not identify Colon because the robber wore a mask. He gave the robber’s height as three inches taller than Colon, who is 5 feet, 4 inches.
“The reason they snatched me up is because of my criminal history,” Colon said. “They ran my name through the computer and saw that I was on parole for the same crime.”
Colon had steadfastly maintained his innocence and refused a plea bargain offer for a misdemeanor charge. He was emotional when finally vindicated.
“They found me not guilty of all charges,” said Colon. “I was elated. I cried.”
“I lost my apartment, my car, my job, my credit cards. I lost all my property in the apartment,” he added. “If it wasn’t for my sister and my son and my niece, I would have just lost it and just gave myself up to the prison life.”
Further, Colon had to deal with life in the bleak and dangerous Otis Bantum Correctional Center on Rikers for three years awaiting trial.
“Every day in this place you’re risking your life,” he said. “You never know when someone’s gonna spaz out.”