Washington had an intellectual disability, and because of it he often complied with authority figures. The police took advantage of this by asking him leading questions.
It wasn’t until years later that Washington won $2.25 million from a case exposing the state’s fabricated evidence! But how did that massive lawsuit and exoneration come about?
Another person on death row found out about his disability and told a lawyer – who stalled his case NINE days before he was supposed to die! During this time, authorities admitted that his DNA wasn’t a match.
Because of Washington, a 2001 law gives incarcerated people the right to seek DNA testing at any time to prove their innocence. And, just this year, Virginia abolished the death penalty. But that’s not enough progress.
Over 33% of people killed by police have a disability – that we know of – including Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, and George Floyd. We need to advocate for disabled Black people because they experience a deadly intersection of identities in this country. The best way we can advocate for our people is by advocating for the abolition of the criminal legal system itself!