After the State of North Carolina vacated charges against him, a pastor who spent more than eight years in prison filed a lawsuit in his hometown accusing local police of fabricating evidence, reported The News and Observer.
In 1993, Darron Carmon was accused and convicted of armed robbery, of taking $281 from Fast Way convenience store. At the time, the young, Black college student studied commercial arts at Pitt Community College.
In an interview with the Observer, Carmon recalled growing up with the perception that the local police believed all Black men were potential criminals.
“To be honest, to be a Black male at that time, that really played a big part,” said Carmon. “All you have to say is, ‘They have Timberlands and a hoodie on.’”
The federal lawsuit alleges that two Winterville, North Carolina police officers concealed facts and fabricated evidence used to convict Carmon and that there was no probable cause to detain him.
Robert Thompson, the store’s clerk, told police that the robber stood 6 feet tall and had an afro.
But the investigative report that the police gave to prosecutors was different. It said that the clerk described a 5-foot-8 man with close– cropped hair, a description close to Carmon’s appearance.
Donnie Greene and Emmanuel Armaos are the police officers accused of manufacturing details pertaining to the case and “recklessly withholding” fingerprints.
Instead of providing prints taken at the crime scene to prosecutors, the officers put the prints in an evidence locker, where they remained for 28 years.
The fingerprints only resurfaced when Carmon’s post-conviction attorney filed a public records request. Carmon says the prints would have cleared him.
In 2001, the state granted his release because of good behavior, and vacated his conviction a year later.
As a pastor’s son, Carmon currently ministers two churches in his hometown. He is the founder of several nonprofits and father to five adopted children.
The extent of his community service is such that the town of Winterville has named the last Saturday of April Darron Carmon Day.
“Most of all, I am thankful; do I feel justice? I actually don’t … They can’t give me the time that they took,” said Carmon.