Two Kentucky men who were jailed for 22 years for a 1992 murder they did not commit agreed to settle a civil rights case against Louisville for $20.5 million. In 2018, Garr Keith Hardin and Jeffrey Clark were exonerated in the stabbing death of Rhonda Sue Warford after lawyers presented DNA and other evidence casting doubt on their 1995 murder conviction. They were accused of killing Warford as part of a satanic ritual, the New York Times reports. "The settlement pretty loudly and clearly represents an acknowledgment by the city of Louisville that Jeff and Keith were completely innocent and wronged through egregious police misconduct,” said Elliot Slosar, a Chicago-based lawyer who represented Clark.
Kevin Trager, a spokesman for the Louisville mayor, said the investigation into Warford's death "is active and ongoing" The case was another blemish for Louisville’s law enforcement, which came under fire after the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor, who was killed by police officers in a botched 2020 raid on her apartment. Taylor’s death prompted a federal investigation that revealed systemic police misconduct, including the use of excessive force and discrimination against Black people. The new settlement will allow Clark and Hardin to move forward with their lives, which their lawyers said have been marked by a difficult period of readjustment after serving decades of life sentences. "It means I can get started on with my life, because after you do so many years like that, you get out and you have nothing,” Clark said. “And it means that they’re being held accountable.” Much of the lawsuit cited the actions of a disgraced Louisville police detective, Mark Handy, who was convicted in 2021 of lying in a separate case he had investigated that ended in a wrongful conviction.