At the time of their conviction, a judge ruled that the teenagers’ coerced confessions were admissible, despite other evidence indicating that the attack had been committed by a single, unrelated person. The attack on the jogger, who was white, led to heightened racial tension between residents and police, which was fueled by lurid news reports and provocative statements by pundits and politicians. One of the parties named in the suit include former NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly, whose legacy is fraught with racist policies.

While defendants in lawsuits typically deny liability, this particular suit included unusual language that goes further than usual to absolve the city of blame, the New York Times reports. “[T]he city explicitly asserts that prosecutors and police detectives did nothing wrong at the time,” the settlement states. “The City of New York has denied and continues to deny that it and the individually named defendants have committed any violations of law or engaged in any wrongful acts concerning or related to any allegations that were or could have been alleged.”

The city’s corporation counsel, Zachary Carter, nonetheless acknowledged that the wrongful conviction and imprisonment of the innocent men is “an injustice in need of redress.”

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“This settlement is an act of justice for those five men that is long overdue,” de Blasio said in a statement after the settlement was approved.

Jonathan C. Moore, an attorney for one of the plaintiffs, told the Times it was “wonderful this case is finally over for these young men, who maintained their innocence all along… [the settlement is] some measure of justice, and nobody would deny that, but no amount of money could really compensate them for what they and their families suffered.”

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