A few months ago, Shabaka Shakur and Derrick Hamilton embarked on a joint venture—ownership of a new restaurant located in downtown Brooklyn. But before they became business partners, they were allies of a different type. Both men were wrongfully convicted of crimes which they didn’t commit and, combined, spent nearly 60 years in prison. In a segment which aired this morning, CBS News reported on Shakur’s and Hamilton’s story, and what their lives have looked like since being exonerated and regaining their freedom.
The men met in prison in central New York, where they were both serving sentences for murders they didn’t commit. Shakur was convicted of a double homicide in 1989; Hamilton was convicted of murder in 1991.
Before both of the men were exonerated in 2015, they spent many hours together in prison, learning and researching the law with the hope of being able to prove their innocence. It was during that time that Shakur and Hamilton learned that there was a central figure to both of their wrongful convictions: former New York City Detective Louis Scarcella. Over the past several years, nearly a dozen cases on which Scarcella was the detective have been overturned based on evidence of his mishandling of evidence and witnesses.
Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Innocence Project said that Shakur and Hamilton are free in big part because of the legal work they did on their own cases. “The odds [of proving a wrongful conviction] are enormous, and it takes remarkable resilience, intellect and character to succeed and that’s who these guys are,” Scheck said to CBS News.
When asked about the best part of his new life since being exonerated, Shakur said, “Just living free.”
In addition to running their new restaurant, Shakur and Hamilton also offer guidance and their legal knowhow to other individuals who are trying to expose their wrongful convictions.
Watch the full CBS News segment here: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/derrick-hamilton-shabaka-shakur-wrongfully-convicted-imprisoned-restaurant-brownstone/