Two men, Kunta Gable and Sidney Hill, who had their convictions overturned in a 1994 New Orleans murder case, have filed a federal lawsuit against the city, the district attorney, and several former police officers. The lawsuit alleges that Gable and Hill were framed by former police officer Len Davis, who is currently facing a federal death sentence, and Davis’ accomplice, former officer Sammie Williams. The men are seeking unspecified damages in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court.
Gable and Hill spent nearly three decades in prison before their release was sought by current District Attorney Jason Williams in 2022. The decision to seek their release was influenced by Davis’ involvement in the case. Davis, who was convicted on federal charges in the 1990s, was found to have orchestrated a drug protection ring involving other officers and arranged the murder of a woman who had filed a brutality complaint against him.
The shooting death of Rondell Santinac near the Desire housing development in 1994 led to the arrest of Gable, Hill, and Bernell Juluke, who were teenagers at the time. A state judge granted a motion to vacate their convictions in 2022. The lawsuit highlights several issues in the case, including the failure of prosecutors to disclose evidence that undermined the case against the men. It also reveals that Davis and Williams, the first officers at the scene, were known to cover up the identity of perpetrators and manipulate evidence to protect drug dealers they were associated with.
The lawsuit not only seeks justice for Gable and Hill but also outlines the scandals that plagued the New Orleans Police Department in the early 1990s and the abuses documented in a 2011 U.S. Department of Justice report. The report was a result of an investigation into police policies and practices following the deaths of unarmed civilians after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The city is currently operating under a court-approved reform plan known as a “consent decree.”