The Los Angeles City Council agreed Tuesday to pay a total of $24.3 million to Kash Register and Bruce Lisker, two men who were suing the city for wrongful murder convictions after spending decades in prison.
The council voted to pay $16.7 million to Register and $7.6 million to Lisker, who had filed unrelated but similar lawsuits challenging the police work that helped send them to prison.
City Councilman Paul Krekorian said the move will likely save the voters money in the long run, but it's also the right thing to do.
Register served over 34 years for the shooting death of a 78-year-old man in west Los Angeles in 1979. In 2013, a judge overturned his conviction, saying police ignored the sisters of one eyewitness who said the woman was lying.
"The City of Los Angeles really stepped up and did the right thing here," said Register's attorney, Nick Brustin. "They recognized that Kash was the victim of a horrible injustice, and that if a jury saw the evidence of misconduct that led to his wrongful conviction, the award could easily have been several times greater."
Register himself said in a statement that he "can't get these 34 years back, but I hope my case can help make things better for others, through improving the way the police get identifications or other reforms."
Lisker, who had a history of drug abuse and fighting with his mother, was imprisoned for over 26 years. He was 17 when his mother was killed in 1983. He said he showed up at her house, saw her on the floor through a window, broke in and tried to help her.
Police contended it was impossible to see her through the window and said a bloody shoe print at the scene belonged to Lisker. A Los Angeles Times investigation in 2005 said a new analysis of the shoe print showed it was not Lisker's. He was released in 2009.
"Finally, after more than 30 years of fighting to establish my innocence and to vindicate my rights, this painful chapter of my life has been brought to a close," Lisker said in a statement.