Teenager spends 3 years in jail and charges dropped
NEW YORK (WABC) --
20-year-old Kalief Browder may be physically free, but mentally he is
still trapped behind bars on Rikers, where every day was a battle to
"It's very hard when you are dealing with dudes that are big
and have weapons and shanks and there are gangs," says Browder, "you
know if you don't give your phone call up, or you don't give them what
they want you know they are going to jump you. And it's very scary."
In May of 2010, Browder was a 16-year-old tenth grader, walking home on
Arthur Avenue in the Bronx after a party. "This guy comes out of
nowhere and says I robbed him. And the next thing I know they are
putting cuffs on me. I don't know this dude. And I do over three years
for something I didn't do."
Browder's family couldn't make the
$10,000 bail on the robbery charges, and he had a legal aid attorney.
Browder is now represented by a civil rights law firm.
who did not know Kalief Browder, and simply told the police officer,
'Officer I was robbed two weeks ago and that kid did it', that's where
it ended. That was the identification," said Browder's attorney, Paul
Prestia. Browder said that at the time, the stress was overwhelming,
and at some point he tried to commit suicide.
"I mean like
every time I go to court, I think I'm, going home, and I go to court,
and absolutely nothing happens," adds Browder, "I was feeling so much
pain, and it was all balling in my head, and I just had to grab my head
and I can't take it."
He missed his sister's wedding, the birth
of his nephew, and so many family events. In January, Browder says he
was offered a plea deal after 33 Months in jail, which he refused.
"The judge was trying to give me time served, and she is telling me if I
am not taking it and I lose at trial I can get 15 years," notes
Browder went back to jail, and in June, he was freed with no explanation.
"They just dismissed the case and they think it's all right. No
apology, no nothing," he says, "they just say 'case dismissed, don't
worry about nothing'. What do you mean, don't worry about nothing? You
just took 3 years of my life."
Browder is now trying to make up
for those three years of high school that he lost by taking courses to
get his GED. "I didn't get to go to prom or graduation. Nothing,"
Browder says, "those are the main years. They are the main years. And I
am never going to get those years back. Never. Never."
Browder is trying to move forward. He expects to get his GED by the end of the year, and is desperately trying to find a job.