Former Wu-Tang Clan producer files wrongful imprisonment lawsuit against New York City

All charges against Derrick Harris were dropped in 2020.

March 3, 2022, 7:31 PM

Music producer Derrick Harris filed a lawsuit against the City of New York and the New York Police Department alleging he was wrongfully accused of sexual assault and imprisoned for four years on Rikers Island.

Harris was acquitted on some of the charges in 2015 and cleared of all charges in 2020, according to the lawsuit.

The city played a role in the arrest of Derrick Harris for "a bogus rape accusation, leading to his wrongful incarceration for four years," civil rights attorney Ben Crump said at a press conference Thursday.

Harris was "wrongfully and falsely accused based on police lies," he said.

Crump said evidence was fabricated against Harris to keep him imprisoned in Rikers Island for four years after his arrest and prior to trial. Harris was injured during his imprisonment, including suffering a skull fracture, he said.

The lawsuits also lists as defendants the police officers who arrested Harris, former New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and Carolina Holderness, the former deputy chief for the special victims bureau at the District Attorney's office.

The NYPD declined to comment because they said they had not been served with the lawsuit.

Representatives for the city of New York, Vance Jr. and Holderness did not immediately reply to ABC News' requests for comment. Attorney information for the officers was not immediately available.

PHOTO: Derrick Harris is seen in an undated photo released by Ben Crump Law.
Derrick Harris is seen in an undated photo released by Ben Crump Law.
Ben Crump Law

According to the lawsuit, Harris was beaten and arrested at his home by NYPD officers on Sept. 12, 2011, after an incident in which a female acquaintance screamed for help from the balcony of his apartment, alleging he had sexually assaulted her. The woman left, but hours later officers entered his home without a warrant, the lawsuit claims.

Harris was punched, pushed and slammed to the ground by the officers, the lawsuit says. He was handcuffed without explanation or attempts at de-escalation, he alleges in the lawsuit.

After his arrest, the lawsuit says officers falsified witness evidence and evidence at the scene to obtain a warrant to search his home. It also claims that the alleged victim's rape kit and other physical evidence was improperly handled and that Harris had to have the evidence tested which showed his DNA was not present and proved his innocence.

"And then he found out how easy it was for the system to gobble up a black man and just tried him out," Crump said.

Prior to the incident, Harris was a self-employed music producer with clients including Wu-Tang Clan, Alicia Keys and Busta Rhymes. He had no prior convictions or time in prison, according to the lawsuit.

"I feel like if I wasn't a black man, then the fact that they had evidence to prove my innocence within a few months of me being arrested, I would have not had to stay on Rikers Island for over four years, just like they did to Kalief Browder," Harris said at the press conference, referencing the teenager who was imprisoned on Rikers Island for three years without a trial.

"They hold you on Rikers Island, with no case at all, in an attempt to try to get you to take a guilty plea. And it's wrong. It has to be stopped," Harris said.