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Man sues Buffalo over police 'wrongdoing' that led to his 19 years behind bars

Cory Epps blames his nearly 20 years of wrongful imprisonment on the Buffalo Police detectives who handled his case.

Epps, who was convicted of murder but later exonerated, points to "wrongdoing" by homicide detectives in a new civil lawsuit seeking unspecified damages from the city.

In the suit, Epps said the police suppressed important evidence, including a witness statement implicating the real murderer.

"As a result of the police misconduct, Epps spent two decades in jail," his lawyers said in court papers.

The city declined to comment on the allegations, but is expected to challenge them as part of the former inmate's federal court lawsuit.

Now 47, Epps, a married father of three and grandfather of four, was found responsible for the road rage killing of Tameka Means in 1997 and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

At the time, he proclaimed his innocence and told his family, don't worry about it, "The Lord's going to take care of it."

Twenty years later, with the help of the Exoneration Initiative, a New York City group that assists people wrongfully convicted, Epps was freed.

"I feel vindicated," he said at the time. "God gave the judge the truth. I am just looking to get my life back."

Cory Epps, who spent almost 20 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit, is mobbed by family on Dec. 1, 2017 as he is released from custody after his conviction was vacated in light of new evidence. (File photo/Derek Gee/Buffalo News)

During his murder trial, Epps claimed he was at a Perkins restaurant with his wife at the time of the killing and produced evidence, including a receipt detailing what they ate that night.

The prosecution countered with a witness, the woman who was a passenger in Means' car, who identified Epps as the one who shot her friend in the head.

Epps claims detectives learned of another suspect, Russell Montgomery, early on in their investigation but covered up evidence connecting him to the killing.

Convicted in 2000 for the murder of someone else, Montgomery is currently serving a 22 years to life sentence in prison.

During and after the trial, Epps' lawyer argued that Montomery was a viable suspect and that police detectives never followed  leads connecting him to the killing.

In the lawsuit, Epps points to Montgomery's murder of Paul Pope and a statement from a witness who claims Montgomery admitted killing Means in a conversation with Pope.

"Had this evidence been disclosed to Epps and his trial counsel, Epps, who had a compelling alibi, would not have been convicted," the suit claims.

Means, a 26-year old Cheektowaga woman, was killed May 26, 1997, at the intersection of East Delavan Avenue and Chelsea Place.

Without naming Montgomery, prosecutors said at the time of Epps' release that there was new evidence of who killed Means 22 years ago.

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