Eleven years and three trials later, a city transit worker whose life was derailed after he says he was falsely accused of leading cops on a high-speed chase in the Bronx has finally cleared his name.
Former MTA station cleaner Demoyne Anderson has maintained his innocence ever since he says cops mistook him for the driver of a drug-filled SUV that sped away from police and crashed on Jan. 27, 2005.
But it took three criminal trials — and the arresting officer admitting to fudging evidence in other cases — to clear him of the charges.
Now, after settling his false arrest lawsuit with the city for $725,000, Anderson said he hopes the new year will bring a clean slate.
“It felt like ultimate vindication for me, that everything I said from day one was the truth,” Anderson, 54, told the Daily News when asked about the agreement hashed out in Bronx Supreme Court.
On the night of his arrest, Anderson said he had just picked up his MTA paycheck and was walking to the movies when he witnessed the black SUV crash on the Unionport Bridge in the east Bronx. As he ran to help, he saw a man jump out and make a run for it.
Police soon arrived and surrounded Anderson. Ignoring his cries that he was an innocent bystander, they slapped him in cuffs, beat him, pepper sprayed him and accused him of being the driver, Anderson alleged in the suit.
“You black motherf—-r, you almost hit me, you could have killed me,” one of the officers said, according to Anderson.
One of the cops who Anderson says punched him was Sgt. William Eiseman, who years later would admit to lying under oath in drug cases — during the same time period as Anderson’s bust.
Eiseman was booted from the force in 2011 after pleading guilty to perjury.
Cops charged Anderson — who to that point had no criminal record — with felony pot possession and assaulting an officer after finding a duffel bag of marijuana in the SUV.
There began the father-of-four’s years-long battle for justice.
Unwilling to accept a plea deal for something he didn’t do, Anderson went to Bronx court every month for years as he awaited trial, sometimes rolling his infant daughter into the courtroom in a stroller.
He testified in his own defense at three separate trials, beginning in June 2008. The first two ended with the jury unable to reach a verdict on the more serious charges but finding him guilty of misdemeanor resisting arrest.
At the final trial, prosecutors did not call Eiseman as a witness, and jurors acquitted Anderson of the felonies.
He successfully appealed the remaining resisting arrest charge – after bringing up Eiseman’s history of lying about evidence. But the years of legal limbo had taken their toll.
The MTA suspended Anderson while the case was pending. He was eventually offered his job back, but left after an MTA arbitrator ruled that he would not get back pay for the years he missed. His father, who was also an MTA worker, had a heart attack and died during one of the arbitration hearings.
Even now, with his record wiped clean, Anderson said the lingering stench of his arrest has made it difficult to find a job.
His lawyer, Andrew Hoffman, said Anderson’s ordeal shows the perils of a criminal justice system rigged against the accused.
“The presumption of innocence is, unfortunately, largely a myth,” Hoffman told The News. Among the evidence that authorities ignored was that the SUV had Georgia plates tied to another man who had a history of drug arrests, Hoffman said.
Anderson’s lawsuit also alleged that the officers – including Eiseman – had scattered the contents of his wallet inside the bag in a desperate bid to tie Anderson to the drugs.
He said prosecutors had offered to let him plead guilty to lesser charges over the years. But he said he could not have looked his children in the eye after admitting to a crime he did not commit.
Anderson said he hopes his ordeal inspires others who believe they’ve been falsely accused.
“This could have happened to anybody walking down the street,” he said. “But with the help of my family, my friends, and God, I got through it.”
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