One of 'Central Park 5' cheers NYC mayor on $40M settlement

Documentary subject Korey Wise arrives at the Hollywood screening of the film about his case in...

Documentary subject Korey Wise arrives at the Hollywood screening of the film about his case in this 2012 file photo. (GUS RUELAS/Reuters)

Jonathan Allen, Reuters

, Last Updated: 6:29 PM ET

NEW YORK - One of the five men wrongfully convicted in the 1989 rape of a female jogger in New York City's Central Park cheered for Mayor Bill de Blasio at a joyful rally on Saturday, the first remarks by one of the men since reports emerged they had reached a $40 million settlement with the city.

Speaking at a rally, Korey Wise, who was 16 when convicted and spent 13 years in prison before his exoneration, also thanked the murderer and serial rapist Matias Reyes for admitting to the brutal attack in 2002.

"Mr. Reyes, I thank you," Wise, 41, said before a cheering crowd at the "vindication" rally in Harlem, according to video of the event posted online. "If you had not had said anything, I'd still be doing life for something I didn't do."

Civil rights leader and rally organizer Reverend Al Sharpton, who had long campaigned against the convictions, said in introducing Wise that the exonerated man wanted to thank the mayor.

"For the new mayor," Wise said, referring to de Blasio, "Yes!" He pumped the air with his fist and lead the crowd in a chant: "Yes! Yes! Yes!"

Trisha Meili was a 28-year-old investment banker when she was raped and nearly killed while jogging through the park in 1989. She was left badly injured with no memory of the vicious attack, which drew international attention amid rising crime rates and racial tension in New York in the late 1980s.

The five teenagers convicted in the case - Wise, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana and Yusef Salaam - were all black or Hispanic. Meili is white.

The teens confessed to the crime, but recanted soon after, saying that police had coerced them. The convictions were vacated only after Reyes, in prison after being convicted for other rapes, said it was he who raped Meili, a confession that was supported by DNA evidence linking him to the crime.

The five men first filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city in 2003. The administration of Michael Bloomberg, de Blasio's predecessor, spent nearly $6 million fighting it.

De Blasio, who took office in January, called the convictions an injustice and promised to reach a settlement, news of which was first reported on Thursday.

The deal, which still requires approval from the city comptroller and a federal judge, would effectively pay the five men $1 million for each year in prison.

A person familiar with the matter confirmed to Reuters on Thursday that the two sides reached a $40 million settlement.


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