New York City, USA: John Bunn, jailed at 14, wept in court after Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice ShawnDya Simpson dismissed all charges for a 1991 murder he did not commit.
John Bunn was accused alongside fellow teenager Rosean Hargrave of forcing officer Rolando Neischer and his partner Robert Crosson out of their car, shooting them and then stealing the vehicle.
While Neischer died, Crosson survived the shooting and became the sole witness.
Bunn’s murder conviction was thrown out in 2016 after it emerged that the lead detective on the case, Louis Scarcella, used ‘false and misleading practices’ during his time with the NYPD.
On Tuesday, a weeping Bunn, now aged 41, was exonerated of the murder charge.
Overcome with emotion, Bunn told Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice ShawnDya Simpson: “I want to say thank you your honour because it’s been 27 years I’ve been fighting for my life.”
The Brooklyn resident then turned to the prosecutors and cried as he told them they had the wrong guy for the past 27 years.
He said: ‘I want y’all to know that y’all convicted and had the wrong man in prison.”
In a moment of raw emotion, Bunn approached the bench and clutched the judge’s hands, bowed his head and wept, as the courtroom erupted in applause.
Justice ShawnDya Simpson said: “I am more than emotional about this day.
“You were 14 at the time. This shouldn’t have ever happened.”
Speaking to reporters outside the courtroom, Bunn said that he felt “blessed” and was “just thanking God I reached this point”.
Bunn and fellow teenager Hargrave were convicted based on tainted evidence produced by disgraced NYPD detective Louis Scarcella, 62.
Scarcella was known as the ‘go-to’ detective in the 80s and 90s but an investigation into his work practices resulted in a number of murder cases being overturned.
According to reports in the New York Post, Scarcella – who is now retired – placed the innocent teens’ pictures in a photo array for surviving victim Crosson.
Bunn’s legal team argued that there were a number of issues with the investigation from the beginning.
Evidence of wrongful conviction included the fact that fingerprints found at the scene did not belong to either teenager, and that Crosson had described his attackers as light-skinned men in their 20s.
During his hearing, he said: “’Y’all had the wrong man this whole time and you have someone out there running free and y’all had no right to do what you did.
“I don’t know how I made it this far, but I believe I am here for a purpose. I just want to be proven innocent.
“I didn’t want to be in the dark side of the shadows they (the prosecutors) tried to put me.”
Co-accused Hargrave was just 16 when he went to prison.
The now 44-year-old was also exonerated in a separate hearing the day before.
Hargrave, who appeared at the Brooklyn Supreme Court with his girlfriend and cousin, sobbed as he was finally cleared after spending 24 years in prison for the killing.
Speaking outside the courtroom, he said: “There were times I saw death – that is how badly corrections officers beat me for a crime I did not commit.”
Both exonerations come as the Brooklyn district attorney’s office’s Conviction Review Unit continues to investigate more than 70 murders under Scarcella’s investigation.
Bunn was released on parole in 2009 after 17 years in prison but has spent the last decade fighting to have his name cleared.