BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Valentino Dixon has filed a lawsuit against the City of Buffalo and Erie County, among others, after serving 27 years in prison for a murder he did not commit.
"The evidence is there that they covered up the truth and the facts in the case, that they knew I was innocent, but they didn't care and convicted me anyway," Dixon said.
The 68 page lawsuit describes patterns of misconduct, a "corrosive culture at BPD" and a "win-at-all costs culture" within the Erie County District Attorney's Office during that time.
"This wasn't a mystery. This wasn't a whodunit. There's absolutely no reason for Valentino Dixon to spend 25 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit," one of Dixon's attorneys, Anna Benvenutti Hoffmann, said.
According to the civil lawsuit, it is alleged that the "Buffalo Police Department detectives and Assistant District Attorney Christopher Belling—committed egregious misconduct to fabricate a case against Mr. Dixon, causing him to be convicted of a crime he did not commit."
In the lawsuit, Dixon accuses the police and D.A. of fabricating a case against him because he was on a "shared a list of targets that they intended to get “off the street” by making any colorable charges stick to them."
It is also alleged that the case against Dixon used "improper suggestion and coercion to induce three witnesses to falsely identify him as the shooter..."
Dixon was convicted of the murder of 17-year-old Torriano Jackson and was released from prison in September 2018 after a Buffalo man confessed to the murder, committed in August of 1991.
While in prison, Dixon gained national attention from the golf courses he drew in his prison cell.
"Because without the artwork, I believe I'm still sitting in prison," Dixon said. He continued, "I'm living my life, with or without a lawsuit...I'm determined to make something of myself and to touch as many lives as possible."
Former Assistant District Attorney Christopher Belling had "no comment" when asked about the lawsuit as did the Erie County District Attorney's Office.
According to city spokesperson, Mike DeGeorge, “the recently filed lawsuit of Mr. Dixon has now been served on the City of Buffalo. The City will have no comment on this matter while the litigation is pending."