Herbert Alford, an African American man who spent almost five years in prison after being wrongfully convicted for a murder he didn’t commit, is now suing Hertz for failing to promptly provide the receipt that would have had confirmed his innocence.
In 2015, Alford was arrested after police suspected that he was responsible for a 2011 murder. One year later, he was convicted of second-degree murder, despite maintaining his innocence, saying he was renting a vehicle several miles away from the scene.
Alford said he was renting a car from the airport in Lansing, Michigan just minutes before the murder of 23-year-old Michael Adams happened at a strip mall 20 minutes away from the airport, making it physically impossible for him to be the gunman.
However, Hertz wasn’t able to turn over that evidence in a timely manner. They were only able to provide the receipt in 2018, which lead to his exoneration. Alford filed a lawsuit against Hertz and is seeking compensation of at least $25,000.
“Had the defendants not ignored and disobeyed numerous court orders requiring them to produce the documentation that eventually freed Mr. Alford, he would not have spent over 1,700 days incarcerated,” Alford’s attorney Jamie White said, according to CNN.
Meanwhile, a Hertz representative said the company is “deeply saddened” about what happened to Alford. Spokeswoman Lauren Luster said, “While we were unable to find the historic rental record from 2011 when requested in 2015, we continued our good faith efforts to locate it. With advances in data search in the years following, we were able to locate the rental record in 2018 and promptly provided it.”
The charges against Alford were finally dropped in December 2020 but it won’t change the fact that he was imprisoned for 5 years for a crime he did not commit.