Black man wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for 44 years, gets $25 million settlement

A man wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for 44 years has reached a $25 million combined settlement with a central North Carolina city and the state of North Carolina involving a lawsuit accusing authorities of misconduct, the man’s lawyers said Tuesday.

The settlement, which will end a wrongful incarceration lawsuit filed by attorneys for Ronnie Wallace Long in 2021, also included a public written apology from the city of Concord for its role in his imprisonment. The city, located about 25 miles northeast of Charlotte, has agreed to pay $22 million of the settlement.

“We are deeply remorseful for the past wrongs that caused tremendous harm to Mr. Long, his family, friends, and our community,” the city’s statement read. “While there are no measures to fully restore to Mr. Long and his family all that was taken from them, through this agreement we are doing everything in our power to right the past wrongs and take responsibility.”

Long, now 68, was a young Black man living in Concord when he was accused of raping a White woman. An all-White jury in Cabarrus County that Long’s attorneys said was handpicked by local law enforcement leaders convicted Long of burglary and rape in 1976. At age 21, Long received two life sentences.