Well, it took some time—nine years, to be exact—but Tokunbo Onilude, 41, has been awarded $2.4 by a Bronx jury for a horrible wrong done to him by police…all because he was wearing a hoodie. (See video below) Yeah, that’s right: A hoodie, in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Tokunbo Onilude, 32 at the time, was walking to his Eastchester home when two police officers stopped him and took him to the NYPD’s 49th Precinct station house for questioning in the Sept. 16, 2008. (LUIZ C. RIBEIRO/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)
In an exclusive report by the New York Daily News, Onilude recounted his story:
- On Sept. 7, 2008, Diaby Bafode, a livery cab driver, crashed into a parked car after he was repeatedly stabbed during a robbery in the Bronx. The crash occurred down the block from where Onilude lived with his mother and brother.
- More than a week later, a witness, Andrea Lounds hailed two cops in their patrol car as they drove through the area. She told the officers two black men in hoodies, who she previously saw running from the crime scene, were on Hering Ave. right at that moment.
- The officers spotted Onilude in a hoodie walking in the opposite direction, and took him into custody. But they later testified they never brought Onilude back to Lounds to check if he was the person she had seen.
- Onilude was taken to the NYPD’s 49th Precinct station house for questioning on Sept. 16, 2008.
- During questioning in the precinct, Onilude told cops he was with his girlfriend the day of the stabbing. He did say he was at the scene after the driver was attacked — but he strenuously denied being involved in the crime.
- The questioning lasted 18 hours in a small room, where Onilude was cuffed to a vent.
- Cops said the victim identified him from a photo lineup done at his hospital bedside. But in court, Onilude’s lawyers argued the detective never got that I.D., noting there was no written record of it. Bafode flew home to West Africa, where his brother said he died within a year probably because of complications from the attack.
- Onilude was held on Rikers Island for 15 days and was released after the case was not immediately brought before a grand jury. He spent the next seven months facing attempted murder charges with a 25-year prison sentence if convicted.
- The case was finally dropped in 2009. Onilude left New York because it was difficult to deal with the stares in the neighborhood from people who knew he was arrested and charged with such a serious crime.
- The NYPD closed the investigation after Onilude was arrested. No one else has ever been apprehended.
- Onilude subsequently sued the NYPD, arguing cops never had probable cause to arrest him and noting there was no fingerprint match or witness identification.
He eventually prevailed.
Onilude’s lawyer, Glenn Miller, praised the verdict, reached after almost three days of deliberation. “The jury unanimously accepted our claim that Detective Chico had no basis to charge Mr. Onilude with any crime,” he said in a statement. “Hopefully, the jury’s verdict will send a message to the NYPD that false charges are unacceptable.”
Yes, hopefully. But…this is a rare victory in an ocean of wrongfully arrested, convicted, and in many cases, executed, Black men.
We’re glad Onilude prevailed and justice was served. #ItsTooMuch