SF reaches $13.1M settlement with man framed by police for murder

Attorneys for a San Francisco man who served more than six years in prison after police framed him for murder have reached a $13.1 million settlement with the City Attorney’s Office.

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday is set to approve the settlement agreement with Jamal Trulove, who was wrongfully convicted in the 2007 murder of his friend Seu Kuka at the Sunnydale Housing Project.

Trulove, an aspiring actor and hip-hop artist who appeared on the reality television show “I Love New York 2,” was convicted of first-degree murder in 2010 after a witness identified him as the shooter.

But a state appeals court overturned his conviction in 2014 on claims of prosecutorial misconduct and ordered a new trial. By the time a jury acquitted him of murder after retrial in March 2015, Trulove had spent more than six years in jail or prison for a crime that he says he did not commit.

Trulove filed a federal lawsuit against San Francisco and a number of officers in January 2016, alleging that his wrongful conviction “was the result of serious misconduct” by police who “manipulated an eyewitness, Priscilla Lualemaga, into misidentifying Mr. Trulove as the shooter.”

The City Attorney’s Office denied the allegations.

But in April 2018, a jury found that two of the officers, retired homicide investigators Maureen D’Amico and Michael Johnson, had “deliberately fabricated evidence” against Trulove and withheld evidence in the case. The jury awarded Trulove $10 million in damages.

In addition, the City Attorney’s Office agreed to pay Trulove $4.5 million in attorneys’ fees before appealing the judgement last August.

The office has since decided to drop the appeal under the $13.1 million settlement agreement.

“We feel this proposed settlement is the best way to resolve this case,” said John Cote, a spokesperson for the office.

Had the office not settled, Cote said San Francisco would have been on the hook for more than $15 million after interest.

“Continuing to appeal could have increased that even further, and there were significant legal hurdles to overcome,” Cote said. “Settling this case is the prudent thing to do at this point.”

An attorney for Trulove declined to comment citing the pending settlement.

After jurors awarded him $10 million, Trulove adopted the rap name “10MilliMilli.” He also has a role in the film “The Last Black Man in San Francisco.”

“I know I didn’t do it,” Trulove said in a September 2018 interview on the radio show Sway’s Universe. “They had a girl that was saying I did it. It just blew my mind.”

Trulove said the money wasn’t worth the time he spent behind bars.

“You can never get those days back,” Trulove said.

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

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