A man sues New York City after serving 27 years in jail and then being found not guilty of killing a subway token clerk


Recently cleared of killing a subway token booth worker in a horrible, fiery fire recently sued New York City and two detectives on Monday, saying that “a wanton and reckless” attitude in the police department put him in jail for decades without a reason, which did a lot of damage to his mental health.

Thomas Malik is one of three men who spent decades in jail before all three convictions were thrown out last year in connection with the death of Harry Kaufman. He is demanding at least $50 million.

Malik wants justice for the wrongdoing by the government that put him in jail for almost 27 years and for the physical and mental harm he suffered while he was there, according to the case written by Ronald Kuby and Rhidaya Trivedi.

Lawyers for the city said they would look over Malik’s case. Vincent Ellerbe and James Irons, who were also charged with crimes with him, have also asked for money damages.

Kaufman, 50, was burned alive during a plan to rob him while he worked the overnight shift in a Brooklyn subway stop on November 26, 1995. The people who attacked him squirted gasoline into the toll station coin slot and used matches to light the fuel.

The horrible killing became a political issue across the country. Bob Dole, who was Senate Majority Leader at the time and a Republican candidate for president, asked people not to watch the movie “Money Train,” which came out a few days before the attack and had a scene that was similar.

The Brooklyn District Attorney’s office said last year that Malik, Irons, and Ellerbe’s convictions were based on false and contradictory statements, along with other bad evidence. The men have long said they were forced to confess.

According to a story from last year, Malik was found in a lineup that used questionable methods and with the help of a witness who had earlier insisted that they knew a different suspect, which the police then ruled out. A jail informant also linked Malik to the crime, but it turned out that the snitch told so many lies that the court banned the man from ever working as an informant again.

Stephen Chmil and Louis Scarcella, two former detectives, were very important to the case. Chmil was the lead detective, and Scarcella got Malik to confess, among other things.

In the past few years, the partners, who are now retired, have been accused many times of getting people to confess and setting up suspects. It has been decided that more than a dozen of Scarcella’s convictions were wrong, but prosecutors have stuck by scores of others.

The former cops say they did nothing wrong. Their lawyer wouldn’t say anything about Malik’s case, which names them and the city as defendants.

The lawsuit says that police and prosecutors in Brooklyn at the time had a “wanton and reckless culture” that let them break people’s rights without getting caught. Malik paid a high price for this.

Because of how well-known his case was, he was abused and attacked in jail, where he went when he was 18, his lawsuit said.

He is now 46 years old, married, and lives outside of state. The lawsuit said that prison left him so mentally scarred that he can barely leave his house. For example, putting on a seatbelt makes him think of being chained and brings on symptoms of his PTSD.

Kuby, who also represented Ellerbe, said that he reached a deal with the city treasurer for an amount that was not made public. Alan Irons’ lawyer, David Shanies, said that he has filed a case with the state Court of Claims and a federal action.

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