William Giraldo was the first suspect arrested in connection with the Brooklyn Groper case that terrorized Park Slope and surrounding neighborhoods in Brooklyn this summer and autumn, when nearly 20 women were victims of a serial sexual assaulter.
Giraldo was exonerated by DNA evidence five months later but not before spending a month in prison, missing his wedding day, being threatened with deportation, and basically just having his life ruined.
The trouble all started on June 4th, when the NYPD released a surveillance video featuring Giraldo, a livery cab driver, in a Dunkin Donuts that one victim had visited before she'd been attacked. Cops were calling him a suspect.
After seeing the footage, Giraldo went to a police precinct to try and clear his name. He told detectives he was at the DD buying coffee and a donut before taking a fare to JFK airport (an alibi his lawyer later called "iron-clad").
The detectives didn't clear his name, however, and instead interrogated Giraldo, a 24-year-old immigrant from Colombia, for 13 hours, without a lawyer, urging him to confess.
After being identified in only one of four lineups, according to The New York Daily News, Giraldo was arrested, charged with rape and his name was leaked to the media.
He submitted to a DNA test and was told the results would be ready in 72 hours. Because of a backlog at the NYPD, the results weren't ready until November 15th, when the charges against Giraldo were dismissed.
And now, Giraldo is speaking out.
"They ruined my life. I should have never been in jail," he told ABC News.
He's also having trouble finding a job because when any potential employer Googles his name, the results aren't pretty.
(We're happy to join The L Magazine in trying to correct Giraldo's SEO problem.)
"The least that they could do is an apology for what they have done to my life," Giraldo said of police.
Fucked Up In Park Slope is outraged at the NYPD and has an offer for local businesses:
Maybe now that the weather's turned colder, we're having a brief respite from the horrible string of attacks from the summer. But if the police think that we're going to let this all go, they're sadly mistaken. I hope I speak for all of Brooklyn when I say this to the NYPD: we want you to catch the real perpetrators, and we're not going to be placated by a hasty and well-publicized arrest of an innocent bystander. The next time you boast that you've caught a rapist, it better fucking be the right guy, and you'd better fucking have the evidence to make the charges stick.
And to anyone out there who's willing to give William Giraldo a job, let me know when you've hired him, because you'll have a customer for life.