This Innocent Man Spent 23 Years Behind Bars. He’s Suing the Police Who Put Him There.
Ricky Kidd seemed strangely confident for a man who had languished behind bars for 23 years. “While I may fall in the cracks of legal terms or certain legal impediments, my facts will hold up,” Kidd told Reason in 2019. “I’m certain of that.”
They did, in fact, hold up. His confidence makes more sense in the context of his 1997 convictions for a double-murder, which were only secured after police in Kansas City, Missouri, left a trail of misconduct. In August of 2019, a judge granted him habeas corpus relief and vacated those convictions, with the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office dismissing the charges shortly thereafter.
Kidd is now suing, alleging that the government should pay for the incompetence it displayed in imprisoning him for over two decades, even though the evidence consistently pointed to his innocence.
“The unlawful, intentional, willful, deliberately indifferent, and reckless acts and omissions of the individual Defendants, the City of Kansas City, Missouri, and the Board [of Police Commissioners] caused Kidd to be improperly arrested and imprisoned, unfairly tried, wrongfully convicted, and forced to serve 23 years in prison for crimes he did not commit,” notes the suit.
In 1996, Kidd was charged with murdering George Bryant and Oscar Bridges; he was convicted in March of the following year. As Zuri Davis and Joe Setyon previously reported for Reason, his guilty verdict hinged on a man named Richard Harris implicating him. But Harris was not a credible witness: He was on parole for drug charges and was hoping to arrange a reward for aiding in the investigation. His story has since changed multiple times.
Also core to his conviction was the information allegedly provided by a 4-year-old. Bryant’s daughter Kayla, who was present during the murder, unequivocally declined to identify Kidd when asked by police if he was involved. Yet after talking to Harris, cops returned to Bryant and showed her another video lineup. They then “falsely reported that Kayla had made a compelling and theatrical identification of Kidd,” notes the suit. Amy McGowan, the lead prosecutor, conceded in 2017 that “there is no physical evidence tying [Kidd] to the crime scene.”
Evidence does, however, incriminate Gary Goodspeed Sr., who had a violent criminal history, and his son Gary Goodspeed
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