Termaine Joseph Hicks was freed from prison in Philadelphia on Wednesday after serving 19 of 25 years on a trumped up conviction
Hicks, now 45, was jailed in 2001 after Philadelphia cops Marvin Vinson and Sgt. Dennis Zungolo testified against him
They claim they found him raping a woman in an alley near a hospital and that he shot at them when they confronted him
In fact, he’d run to the woman’s aid when he heard her screaming and the real rapist ran away
The officers shot him in the back, planted a gun on him and framed him for the sexual assault
Officer Vinson told the court he saw Hicks attacking the woman and saw him reach for a gun, he then shot Hicks in the chest or stomach
Hicks who always maintained he is innocent, also says he never had a gun and that the cops planted it on him to justify shooting him
The cop was registered to another Philadelphia cop who’d never reported it missing
Termaine Hicks was convicted even though the woman could not identify her attacker at trial and had suffered a head injury
Hicks says said felt ‘100lbs lighter,’ leaving prison on Wednesday
‘False testimony’ was to blame for [the wrongful prosecution and conviction], said the Philadelphia DA’s Office
The two cops who testified against him are still working on the force
An innocent Philadelphia man has been freed after spending 19 years in prison because two police officers wrongly claimed he’d raped a woman and then shot at them, when he’d in fact saved her from a different man.
The two police officers involved fabricated a story of Termaine Joseph Hicks shooting at them, his attorneys said.
They officers then planted a gun on Hicks. The bogus firearm was owned by another police officer.
Hicks, now 45, and at the time working as a Popeye’s assistant manager, was near the St. Agnes Hospital in South Philadelphia in the early hours of Nov. 27, 2001 when he heard a woman screaming.
She was walking to an early shift at a Dunkin’ Donuts when she was pistol-whipped and dragged into an alley by a man who raped her. Hicks ran into the alley to help the distressed woman.
The rapist, startled by headlights from a delivery van nearby, ran off and Hicks says that is when he arrived.
But when officer Marvin Vinson and Sgt. Dennis Zungolo arrived second later, they presumed he had attacked the woman and shot at him. Vinson told the court he saw Hicks attacking the woman and saw him reach for a gun. Then, he said he shot Hicks in the chest or stomach.
They then claimed that Hicks had opened fire on them and that they shot him in self-defense. Based on the police evidence a jury found Hicks guilty.
He was convicted of rape, aggravated assault, possessing an instrument of crime, and terroristic threats, and was sentenced to 25 years behind bars.
His conviction came even though the woman could not identify her attacker at trial and had suffered a head injury.
Hicks was eligible for parole in 2015, but it was denied because he continued to assert his innocence.
Hicks went on to serve 19 years in State Correctional Institution Phoenix, about an hour northwest of Philadelphia, in recent years, evidence has piled up to suggest that the case presented by police and prosecutors was riddled with errors.
This week, after a review of his case, his conviction was overturned by the Conviction Integrity Unit in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.
The head of that unit said that ‘false testimony’ was to blame for it.
‘False testimony was used, and I believe it’s impossible to say that did not contribute to the conviction,’ CIU chief Patricia Cummings said.
Among the reasons for the decision was that the cops’ story was not consistent with Hicks’ injuries. He was shot in the back – and there was no reliable security footage to determine exactly what happened.
Hicks’ attorneys also say that he never shot at the police.
They claim the officers made that part of the story up to justify shooting at him, and that they even planted a gun on him.
The weapon was registered to another Philadelphia cop who’d never reported it missing.
Hicks’ lawyers say the fact there was blood from the woman found on the gun but not on the interior of Hicks’ jacket, where the cops say he pulled it from, proves they were lying.
Officers also falsely claimed under oath that Hicks wore a gray hoodie, like one that the attacker was seen wearing.
Although most of the evidence analyzed in the recent review of the case was available at the time of Hicks’s original trial, the jury never saw an enhanced security tape that corroborated parts of Hicks’s story.
CCTV footage showed a man in a gray hoodie dragging the victim into the alley.
Witnesses also testified that they had seen a man in a gray hoodie attack the woman. But there was no gray hoodie among Hicks’s clothes that were turned over to police after he was treated for gunshot wounds in the hospital.
Hicks was freed from prison on Wednesday. It’s unclear whether he now plans to sue the police department.
Both of the cops remain employed by the department, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Vinson has been named in a separate civil case filed against the police department by a taxi driver who says he wrongly accused him of theft then racially abused him, telling him to ‘go back to his country’.
Leaving prison on Wednesday, Hicks said: ‘I feel 100 pounds lighter.
‘It’s unfortunate and sad that it took how long it took for me to clear my name. I’ve been saying the same thing since day one…
‘The things that are promised to citizens should be delivered: a fair trial, and a fair look at what’s being presented. ‘
Hicks’ attorney Vanessa Potkin, director of post-conviction litigation at the Innocence Project, said: ‘Mr. Hicks’ case is yet another example of the pervasive problem of police perjury in the criminal legal system.
‘The cover up of shooting an innocent man required the false testimony of three officers and the acquiescence of a dozen more.
‘Deep-seated police misconduct and institutional protections are too often the source of wrongful convictions and injustice in the system.
‘For far too long the police have willfully lied with impunity; we need accountability.’