Man whose conviction was thrown out for abuse by a police officer says the system is corrupt

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  • A Brooklyn man whose drug-related conviction was overturned on Wednesday said he was “thrilled”.
  • Gregory Barnes’ conviction is one of nearly 400 New York prosecutors are seeking to throw out.
  • The NYPD officer whose work helped put Barnes in jail was later found guilty of giving evidence.

A Brooklyn man whose past conviction was overturned this week because of a corrupt New York police officer said he was “thrilled” by the news, but his exoneration barely scratched the surface of the story. widespread police corruption.

“It’s a step in the right direction, but there’s still a lot to do,” Gregory Barnes told Insider on Thursday. “This is just the beginning…it’s a grain of sand in a sea of ​​trouble.”

Barnes, 43, is one of 378 people with felony convictions that a Brooklyn prosecutor is seeking to exonerate after 13 NYPD officers, whose work has helped land hundreds behind bars, themselves were found guilty of having abused their power during their service.

The Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office said in a statement Wednesday that District Attorney Eric Gonzalez had “lost faith” in cases where convicted officers served as witnesses.

Barnes’ conviction – a 2006 drug offense for which he served 30 months in prison – was overturned and thrown out that day, along with a handful of others.

“It was a blessing to me, and I’m sure it was a blessing to a lot of other people,” Barnes said of the news. “I was thrilled. I was very happy because I know what comes with it. I know what’s in store for me, it’s good stuff…it’s huge.”

Barnes said evidence was filed against him at a bogus drug deal. He said his case should have been dismissed from arraignment, but his prior criminal record helped the case move forward.

After being charged, he said he agreed to a 30-month prison sentence because he feared things would get worse and wanted to do “damage control”.

“There was nothing to this thing, nothing. They were bullshit right off the bat and everyone knew it,” Barnes said. “And I’ve done 30 months of my life behind that.”

The NYPD officer in the Barnes case was later convicted of official misconduct and planting drugs on individuals, according to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office and Elizabeth Felber, who heads the wrongful convictions unit for the non-profit Legal Aid Society.

“He thought because he had a badge he was above the law and untouchable,” Barnes said of the officer. “Just because you have a badge doesn’t mean you’re beyond the consequences.”

This cop, Jason Arbeeny, cried in court during his sentencing and faced up to four years in prison, according to the Daily News.

“Sir, I’m begging you, please don’t send me to jail,” he told the court.

The judge handling the case showed leniency, granting him five years probation and 300 hours of community service in lieu of jail.

Felber, who worked as an attorney at Barnes, told Insider she’s “pleased” the district attorney’s office is tackling police corruption, but noted that some of those reviews should have been done a while ago. years old.

“We hope it’s not a flash in the pan – that they continue to review the work and find out when police officers are charged with crimes,” she said.

Barnes said he wanted to use his overturned conviction as a tool to help other people and try to steer them away from a potential life of “criminality”.

But he also said he wanted to “expose” the prison system and spark some type of change, starting a YouTube channel about flaws in the criminal justice system.

“This system is extremely, extremely corrupt,” Barnes said, saying it uses incarcerated individuals to “create goods and services for pennies on the dollar.”

“If I can create some type of change for other human beings where someone else might not have to go through what I’ve been through, what other guys like me have been through, and I can stop that and enrich someone else’s quality of life, right there – that’s the price,” he said.

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