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Framed?

The Boston Police investigation of Stephan Cowans led to a wrongful conviction. Was it incompetent — or corrupt?
By DAVID S. BERNSTEIN  |  January 28, 2010

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A close call: Another suspect was nearly charged with the Gallagher shooting. By David S. Bernstein

Righting a staggering wrong: It is time for the US Attorney to investigate how and why the Boston police wrongfully convicted Stephan Cowans. The Phoenix editorial.

Truth, justice — or the Boston way: Boston’s taxpayers just coughed up another multimillion-dollar check for a wrongful conviction, without being told what was done wrong. By David S. Bernstein.

$50 million worth of mistakes: Legal claims are costing the city millions of dollars a year. Is it a random blip or a sign of a badly run government? By David S. Bernstein.

Boston agrees to pay $3.2 million to Stephan Cowans: Wrongfully-convicted Mattapan man’s case exposed incompetent fingerprint unit. By David S. Bernstein.

The worst homicide squad in the country: The Boston Police Department doesn’t catch killers, so the killing keeps getting worse. By David S. Bernstein.

Where's the evidence? Boston’s homicide detectives keep finding evidence they didn’t even know they had. What else is lost in the disarray of the BPD? By David S. Bernstein.

The jig is up: After a string of wrongful-conviction revelations, and anger over the acquittal of an alleged killer, the Stephan Cowans case further erodes trust in the criminal-justice system. By David S. Bernstein.

Blind Spots: A spate of wrongful convictions has convinced Suffolk County DA Dan Conley and Boston Police commissioner Kathleen O’Toole to reform how the police use eyewitness evidence. While they’re at it, they should reopen these three cases. By David S. Bernstein.

Let us now praise framed-up men: Innocence commissions are being established all over the country. It’s high time the Bay State followed suit. By Harvey Silverglate.

Stephan Cowans spent nearly seven of his 37 years of life behind bars, locked up for a crime he did not commit. Exonerated in January 2004, Cowans sued and ultimately received a $3.2 million settlement from the city of Boston in 2006. This past October, he was shot dead in his Randolph home — likely by someone seeking part of his wrongful-conviction payday, according to his family and close friends.

Cowans never learned how, or why, he came to be blamed for the non-fatal shooting of Boston police officer Gregory Gallagher in 1997. Now, the Boston Phoenix has uncovered substantial new information about the Cowans case. These revelations are troubling, as they suggest that key members of the Boston Police Department (BPD) knew that Cowans was innocent, even as they forged the case to prosecute him.

The Phoenix has reviewed hundreds of pages of documents, including contents of the original investigative file, and interviewed many sources close to the case. For a variety of reasons, certain case materials, physical evidence, and potential witnesses were not available. Nonetheless, the picture that has emerged is one in which some BPD officers appear to have perjured themselves, and/or concealed evidence, hidden what they knew, and even falsified documents. Officers may have been aware of Cowans’s innocence — some of them may even have known who the real shooter was, and for whatever reason, worked to protect him.

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  Topics: News Features , Crime, Murder and Homicide, Ron Smith,  More more >
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 See all articles by: DAVID S. BERNSTEIN



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