Vanessa Gathers was exonerated today after spending 10 years in jail for a crime she did not commit.

Her saga began in November of 1991 when a man named Michael Shaw was assaulted and robbed. He would later go on to die due to injuries sustained during the assault, and the NYPD brought Gathers in for questioning.

Though she maintained her innocence through investigations and interrogations that lasted over five years,  In 1997 Gathers was coerced into a confession.

Now in 2016, the reports of the officer who had been the lead detective on the Shaw case, the now retired NYPD Detective Louis Scarcella, have been found to had been false.


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Vanessa Gathers was released on parole in 2012, though charges of manslaughter remained on her record.

On Tuesday, a New York judge found Detective Scarcella’s  tactics to be questionable, and ruled that Gather’s be exonerated.

“After a thorough and fair review of the case … the manslaughter conviction against Vanessa Gathers should not stand and that she should be given back her good name,” Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson said in a statement, as reported in the New York Daily News.

Gathers is the first person to be exonerated when it comes to cases tied to Scarcella, though 70 more cases of his are now under review.

When asked what her plans were now, Gathers said she wanted to simply “Go on with my life.”
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About The Author Samantha Callender

Samantha Callender is a multimedia journalist whose work ranges from entertainment journalism to pieces highlighting social issues in multicultural communities. Samantha strives to find intersects between entertainment and social matters, believing that pop culture has the power to not only entertain the masses, but to educate them as well. Her goal when storytelling is to write pieces that serve as a catalyst to prompt dialogue and activism. Her work can be seen on VIBE, The Source, Jet Magazine, The Root, and Cosmopolitan Magazine.

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