Keith Cooper received his pardon papers after serving over seven years in prison for a crime he did not commit. After a wrongful conviction that accused him of armed robbery, the Chicago native has officially reached a settlement in the amount of $7.5 million according to his attorney and an Indiana city spokesperson.
“Mr. Cooper’s wrongful conviction did not happen by accident nor was it an aberration,” said Cooper’s attorney Elliot Slosar. He also referred to the incident as the largest wrongful conviction settlement in Indiana history and that it “exposed the systemic pattern of police and prosecutorial misconduct that exists in Elkhart, Indiana.”
Cooper,who received a wrongful conviction in a 1996 robbery that led to a teen getting shot and wounded, was officially pardoned in February 2017. After being sentenced to 40 years in prison and serving over seven of those years, DNA testing as well as a nationwide offender database concluded that Cooper was not the suspect. Another person was identified in the case.
City officials hope that the agreed settlement “brings to a conclusion the obvious injustice that has been rendered to Mr. Cooper.”
With no former criminal convictions during the time of his arrest Cooper was a married father of three who provided for his family. After his incarceration his wife had to sell their belongings and “live in shelters to survive,” said an official lawsuit that he filed against the city, its then-police chief and three police officers.
Cooper hopes the settlement can begin to repair the wrong done by him with the wrongful conviction. However, he says that “there’s no amount of money that can get back the time I lost.”
While full details haven’t been disclosed, the Elkhart Director of Communications Corrine Straight said, “On behalf of the entire city of Elkhart, to Mr. Cooper and his family, we regret the suffering you have experienced.”