Jury Finds San Francisco Police Officers Framed a Man for Murder

A San Francisco police car sits parked in front of the Hall of Justice in San Francisco. Two San Francisco police officers were found to have fabricated evidence and withheld information that could have exonerated Jamal Trulove. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A federal jury has found that two San Francisco police officers conspired to wrongfully convict a man of murder in 2007. Jurors awarded Jamal Trulove $10 million dollars.

Trulove served 6 and a half years of a 50-year prison sentence for the San Francisco murder of his friend, Seu Kuka, before a retrial acquitted him in 2015.

On Friday, jurors in a civil trial found that two lead homicide inspectors, Maureen D'Amico and Michael Johnson, fabricated evidence and withheld information that could have exonerated Trulove.

"We are analyzing the jury’s findings and will determine from there how to proceed," said John Coté, the press officer at the City Attorney's Office. "Our goal is always to ensure that justice is served."

Attorney Alex Reisman was Trulove's criminal defense attorney, and  part of a team on the civil case that included Kate LaGrande Chatfield, and attorneys at the New York civil rights firm, Neufeld Scheck & Brustin. He says his client burst into tears at the decision.

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"When we won the acquittal for Jamal for a crime that he didn't commit, that wasn't really justice, that was what should have happened," says Reisman, "but when he won this verdict, I think he feels that at least some measure of justice was done for him."

Reisman says his team showed that the inspectors pressed a sole eyewitness to identify Trulove.

Reisman says that happened, in part, to an unprecedented stroke of luck for his team: Trulove shared a cell with a young man who had once been arrested and held at the police station the night of the murder, three years earlier, where he says he saw an officer show a woman a photo and insist that the "it" was Trulove, despite her protestations.

That woman turned out to be the prosecution's witness to the shooting, and the young man--a juvenile at the time of the incident--said the name he heard stood out to him: Trulove. Trulove had briefly appeared on the reality TV program, "I Love New York 2".

"(This case) had one of the most amazing pieces of good luck for Jamal that I've ever seen in any case that I've been associated with," says Reisman.

Reisman says law enforcement went on to show the woman unfair lineups and did not properly investigate another possible suspect.

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