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Ronnie Long Files Civil Lawsuit Against Concord Over Wrongful Conviction

Ronnie-and-Ashley.jpg
Free Ronnie Long
Ronnie Long and wife Ashley Long.

A man who was wrongfully imprisoned for a rape he did not commit has filed a lawsuit against the city of Concord and several Concord police officers. Attorneys for Ronnie Long say he deserves answers and accountability after spending 44 years in prison.

Long was released from prison last year, pardoned by the governor, and paid $750,000 by the state for his wrongful imprisonment.

He had been convicted in 1976 by an all-white jury of raping a prominent white woman. It wasn't until 2015 that his attorneys discovered the Concord Police Department had evidence that could have exonerated him, including fingerprints collected at the scene that did not match Long's.

Now he's suing the city of Concord and a group of officers who were involved in his case. He's also suing the four Concord police chiefs who served while he was in prison appealing his conviction.

Attorney Chris Olson says he hopes to hold those officers to account.

"Forty-four years Mr. Long spent in prison as an innocent man, all the while, these officers remained silent and never came clean about what they did," Olson said.

The 88-page lawsuit also lays out other allegations of misconduct on the part of officers assigned to the case, including that officers improperly led the victim to identity Long as her attacker, pre-screened the jury roll and removed "undesirable" candidates from the pool, and suppressed other evidence that would have weakened the case against Long, such as a state analysis of Long's clothing that found no hairs or hair fragments belonging to the victim, or any paint or carpet fibers from the victim's home.

Three of the officers named in the lawsuit have died. The lawsuit names their estates as defendants.

Long's attorneys say he's entitled to financial compensation and are asking for a trial by jury. The city has yet to file a response to the suit.

The city of Concord did not immediately return WFAE's requests for comment on the lawsuit. In the past, the city has said it does not comment on pending litigation as a matter of policy.

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Nick de la Canal is a reporter for WFAE covering breaking news, arts and culture, and general assignment stories. His work frequently appears on air and online. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal