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Federal lawsuit filed against city, Erie County on behalf of Buffalo 5 members

The lawsuit is the legal fallout after a judge determined last year that murder convictions dating back to the 1970s should be overturned.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Two federal lawsuits each claiming $112 million in damages have now been filed against the City of Buffalo, Erie County, and retired police detectives.

It's the legal fallout after a judge determined last year that murder convictions dating back to the 1970s should be overturned.

They're two of the group known as the Buffalo Five. They are two older men from the group of teenagers who went to jail; that was after they were found guilty in the 1976 robbery murder of a man who left the Golden Nugget tavern on Fillmore.

Now after a judge last year vacated their convictions, they say they are seeking justice in the form of federal lawsuits.

For John Walker, it was 22 years in prison and then parole.

"Thinking back as far as when I was 16 years old, me and my friends and how our life was stolen from us," Walker said. "And not only did we go and suffer things. I saw men die over nothing in prison. I saw men lose their manhood in prison. I've had all kinds of issues in prison. I couldn't have made it unless I was the person I am." 

His co-defendant, Darryl Boyd, spent 28 years in prison, and again, more with parole.

"Unlawfully detained," Boyd said. "And then after that put through suffering, pain, and misery. And then to be returned back to the location where I was kidnapped from to be covered by parole. I just want to know what's going on with this." 

Their attorney saying there was misconduct by prosecutors and investigating detectives as evidence was not properly given to the defense.

Attorney Joel Rudin said: "Buffalo and Erie County cannot give Darryl back their lives, but they can demonstrate that the policies of yesterday are not the policies of today. They can take responsibility for the the injustices that were done in their name by honorably resolving this case." 

District Attorney John Flynn, who says the county will defend against these lawsuits, contends the judge's decision to vacate the convictions was based on the defense claim of one particular photograph at the scene in 1976.

"The defense lawyers 40 years ago didn't do a good enough job to find that photograph," Flynn said. "So that was the basis for the overturning. It had nothing to do with my office 40 years ago hiding any evidence, not giving any evidence etc., etc. That is just categorically false."

A spokesman for the City of Buffalo says, as expected, they will not comment on pending litigation against the city.

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