- Four Black men were accused of raping a white woman in 1949.
- One was then killed by a mob, another by the sheriff. They were all exonerated on Monday.
- The state of Florida officially apologized to their families in 2017.
Four Black men who were falsely accused of raping a white woman in 1949 were exonerated on Monday.
The men — Samuel Shepherd, Ernest Thomas, Charles Greenlee, and Walter Irvin — were accused of raping the woman in Groveland, Florida, and became known as the “Groveland Four,” The Associated Press reported.
The woman, then aged 17, and her estranged husband had told local police that the men helped her when her car broke down, and then raped her, The New York Times reported. The men were then aged between 16 and 26, the AP reported.
Three of them were tortured until the police could extract a confession from two of them, CNN reported.
All four men have since died.
The state of Florida officially apologized to their families in 2017. A resolution passed at the time by the Florida House Representatives called their situation a “great injustice.”
“Despite a lack of evidence or credible witnesses, the four men were charged with rape,” it said.
The four men were also pardoned by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2019.
Thomas was killed by a mob after he was accused, and was shot more than 400 times, the AP reported.
Irvin and Shepherd were shot by the sheriff as they were being moved, and Shepherd died, according to the AP.
Irvin was given the death sentence, but was later given life in prison instead, the AP reported. He died in 1969.
Greenlee, who was also sentenced to life in prison, died in 2012, the AP reported.
The men’s families said they hoped the case would lead to a new look at other cases where Black men were convicted during the Jim Crow era, the AP reported.