After 10 Years Behind Bars, A Wrongfully Convicted Man Fights for What's His

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Dwayne Provience and his children. (Leisa Thompson/Michigan Innocence Clinic/Facebook)

The relationship between law enforcement and members of the community is often strained, but sometimes that tension is more palpable when it comes to the dynamic between police and minorities.

It's an injustice that Dwayne Provience paid the ultimate price for.

“I got pulled over by the Detroit Police," said Provience of the June 2000."Me and my girlfriend, at the time, were going to our home. This happened late at night and I just got pulled over, and I thought for a traffic stop, but come to find out I was getting pulled over for a murder that I didn't have nothing to do with.”

Several police officers jumped out of their cars, guns ready to fire, and dragged Dwayne and his girlfriend out of the vehicle.

It was then, that Dwayne learned, he was suspected for a murder that took place three months earlier.

Imran Syed, a staff attorney and clinical fellow in the Michigan Innocence Clinic, says police suspected Dwayne in the first place because of a non-credible witness.

Dwayne Provience was eventually convicted and spent 9-and-a-half-years in jail until Imran Syed and the Michigan Innocence Clinic got involved.

“At the Michigan Innocence Clinic, we always suspected that they had to have known that they were running with a not credible witness and that their story really didn't add up," said Syed. "It was later on though that we got irrefutable proof that police really should have known better. I have interviewed a police officer who worked in that neighborhood and he said he had made it known to his superiors that the Mosleys were responsible for this murder and Larry Wiley was lying."

They not only gathered enough evidence to show that Dwayne was innocent, but an advisory panel agreed to a $5 million settlement. And so it seemed that nearly a decade after Dwayne's life was turned upside-down, he was finally going to get some justice.

At least, that's what you might think.

In July of 2014, the city of Detroit filed for bankruptcy. When a city goes broke, it's not just banks and pensioners who don't see a pay day, it's people like Dwayne who have filed suit against the city and are way down on the food chain.

Is this America's unluckiest man?

Dwayne Provience and Imran Syed join The Takeaway to discuss the legal battle they are still fighting. To learn more about Dwayne's story, and to help support a documentary Imran is making about Dwayne's case, click here.

Michigan Innocence Clinic/Leisa Thompson

Dwyane at his court hearing. He was freed after serving 10 years for a crime he did not commit. 

Michigan Innocence Clinic/Leisa Thompson
Dwyane at his court hearing.
Michigan Innocence Clinic/Leisa Thompson

Dwyane after being released.

Michigan Innocence Clinic/Leisa Thompson

Dwyane with his children after being released from jail after serving 10 years for a crime he did not commit.

Michigan Innocence Clinic/Leisa Thompson

Dwyane embracing with his family after being released. 

Credit: Imran Syed

Dwayne with his son.

Michigan Innocence Clinic/Leisa Thompson

Dwayne after being released from prison.

Credit: Imran Syed

Dwayne visiting the Michigan Innocence Clinic after his release. 


Dwayne Provience and Imran Syed

Produced by:

Ellen Frankman and Arwa Gunja


T.J. Raphael

Comments [6]

Robert Thomas from Santa Clara

What can be learned from this undeniable injustice and debacle?

One thing I learned is that it's a mistake to allow one's community to become dependent on an industry who's management, labor base and representative legislators all stalwartly strive to insulate it from responding to changes in market forces with such sclerotic tenacity and to such a degree as to lead it to ruin and consequently turn its supporting metropolis into a crime ridden pestilential hell hole.

May. 08 2014 03:46 PM
Richard from CA

Obviously I don't know all the circumstances. But if he hasn't settled with the City, and so isn't limited to a contract claim that would be dischargeable in bankruptcy as an unsecured creditor's claim, he should have other, non-dischargeable claims. He might pursue the City, the prosecuting agency or others on claims relating to their prosecution with knowledge of his likely innocence. Such claims could be characterized as being "in the nature of fraud," and non-dischargeable. Or some of the putative defendants could be solvent. If he has already settled his claims and waived his non-dischargeable claims against the City for a dischargeable settlement contract, he might have a malpractice claim against his lawyers. He shouldn't simply be giving up -- but looking at all his legal options.

May. 08 2014 03:46 PM
Rob from Marin, CA

There are charity starters like kickstarter. This seems like it would be a popular one. There are links in the comments here:

May. 08 2014 03:42 PM
Drew from East Village NYC

Let's ask each executive board member of Goldman Sachs to kick in $250,000 each and BOOM there's his $5MM.

May. 08 2014 03:22 PM
Niel from Dallas

Why can't he sue the police officers and district attorney personally to get some money for dereliction. I know many law official just want to convict, instead of getting at the truth.

May. 08 2014 12:35 PM

It seems to me he's both lucky and unlucky at the same time. I wish him and all his family all the best!

It's a travesty what's happening in the United States! There are just toooo many men and women who are arrested with little real evidence, but convicted because we [white people] have a deeply flawed system of justice and prejudice against black [men] in particular. How to cure the problem? I just don't know, but so glad that there are superior people dedicated at, Michigan Innocence Clinic and other such institutions seeking justice.

May. 08 2014 09:30 AM

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