Conversations with Dominic Carter

Wrongful Convictions - Raymond Santana of the Central Park 5

November 16, 2020 Dominic Carter Season 1 Episode 4
Conversations with Dominic Carter
Wrongful Convictions - Raymond Santana of the Central Park 5
Show Notes Transcript

False Confessions. The remarkable story of the Central Park 5, and how they were convicted as teenagers of raping an Investment Banker in New York's famed Central Park.  They spent between 6 and 13 years behind bars, for a crime they did not commit. One of the 5, Raymond Santana talks with Dominic Carter sharing his painful story. 

Announcer  0:03  
We all know and love half. Our host, Dominic Carter has moderated debates with Hillary Clinton, billionaire Michael Bloomberg, and even interviewed Nelson Mandela. Here was our host political commentator, Dominic Carter.

Dominic Carter  0:21  
Hello, and welcome. And once again, Hello and welcome. I have been thinking about one of my past interviews in particular, that is quite relevant today. The interview is with Raymond Santana. He's one of the so called Central Park five. This story is very much about race and crime, which history has shown us can be quite explosive and of course polarizing. We have to start with the fact that the charges all the charges against the Central Park five were vacated in 2002. Here is Raymond Santana and let's go

Raymond Santana  1:12  
the Donald Trump's the Ann Coulter's you know, the bloggers who still say that we guilty or they'll be guilty of something, you know, because they just can't let it go. They just can't let it go that we were innocent, and that we didn't commit this crime at the end of the day. Reyes has told you on board and one occasion that it was him and him alone, the DNA match. What more do you need?

Dominic Carter  1:34  
So here's the backdrop. In 1989, a young woman, a young white woman, who was an investment banker at the time, was jogging through New York's Central Park, and she was found and had been viciously beaten and raped. It was unclear if she would even survive and remained in a coma that lasted 12 days. More than a decade later, DNA evidence exonerated the five Harlem teens that spent years in prison after being convicted of the crime. The teens now grown men did between six and 13 years behind bars. This is an interview I did with Raymond Santana. It was in 2014, before Donald Trump was elected president........

(Interview Starts)  Raymond Santana, here we are, at Melbourne's restaurant, a popular restaurant in Harlem. four blocks from Central Park, you can see Central Park, from this restaurant, a park that changed your life forever. On the evening of April 19 1989. A lot has changed since then. How do you feel? Um,

Raymond Santana  3:09  
you know, it's still a part that affects my life, to this day. Since 89, I have never been in that part. Um, we drive by it all the time. I'm never going there. My daughter now is 10 years old. I don't take it that way, just because I don't want her to see the numerous playgrounds. So she said, Danny, can we go in and play? So I avoided all times

Dominic Carter  3:33  
you haven't been in Central Park since 1989.

Raymond Santana  3:37  
And I go by it all the time. I live four blocks away. You know, I take alternative route so that my daughter doesn't want to go into the park? because it affects me that much. Why what why does it affect us at this stage of your life? Because it's still something I still have to deal with every day. I'm no longer Raymond Santana, the childhood friend, the cousin, you know, the guy that the next door neighbor, um, Raymond Santana, Central Park five. And so that label would never go away. You know, that label will always be there. So I go to my grave. The only thing is that now It stands for something that's a little more positive.

Dominic Carter  4:12  
What does that label mean Central Park five? 

Raymond Santana  4:14  
Well,back in 1990, it was to me was the worst human beings on the planet Earth, you know, in prison to be known as to be labeled a rapist, you know, within the Trump status, child molester. And then now, you know, Central Park five, it puts an emphasis on it. You know, and that label was very negative back then.

Dominic Carter  4:31  
How old were you? You were about 14,15 when this happened 14 years old, 14 years old. And when you were placed in custody, at that age, you either went to Spotfire to Rikers, which which one are they offered as far as the case is settled now? But are you bitter?

Raymond Santana  4:53  
I'm not bitter, but there's still this. I wouldn't say bitterness But it's still, like we say in the hood is always to be on point. And there's still that aspect with me because I've been fighting this case for so long that you know, for now to just drop in and say that it's over. It's difficult. Every morning, I wake up, ready to fight, ready to do an interview, ready to talk to some kids ready to tell the story. And then now it's like, Is it over? That's not that simple for me.

Dominic Carter  5:23  
Does does money settlement? Does money make you feel better? Does that make this right?

Raymond Santana  5:29  
Money at this point? Wasn't that wasn't the object? You know, for us? It was about the closure? Not that we reach the closure. What do we do next? So the money really the money goes more than my daughter. It secures her future gives her a chance. You know, and and whatever we decide to do, you know, for the kids in the community, it gives them a chance, but what does it do for me? I'm about three, four years old.

Dominic Carter  5:54  
What do you mean money for the kids in the community?

Raymond Santana  5:56  
Well, you know, whatever we decided to do to give back to our people in our community, you're

Dominic Carter  5:59  
gonna give back some of this money?

Raymond Santana  6:01  
You know,it has to be it means our community supported us so strongly. We have a duty to these kids, we have a duty to these this generation that's coming up to be a major influence in their lives. So it's about bringing about some change.

Dominic Carter  6:16  
When I say the name, Donald Trump, what goes through your mind? You know,

Raymond Santana  6:24  
you know, this was the man who put out a full page ad to give us a death penalty. And we talking about 14 and 15 year old kids, he wanted to kill us. You know, now, we've been exonerated, he comes back, you know, all these years later, he still says we're guilty. It's pathetic. You know, it. Sometimes you gotta feel sorry for a person like that, because they were thinking the soul twisted. This the man who went after the president. You know,

Dominic Carter  6:50  
Mr. Trump called this settlement of some $40 million. I'm quoting here, Mr. Trump calls it a disgrace.

Raymond Santana  7:00  
Well, I mean, you know, you're talking about a man who hasn't done anything for our community. You know, he doesn't put any programs in our community. All he does is take from us. He never gave us nothing back.

Dominic Carter  7:13  
Let me ask you this about Mr. Trump, and I'm quoting here, he has implied that even now, somehow you guys are involved in this. And I'm quoting Donald Trump, he says settling does not mean in a sense.

Raymond Santana  7:29  
Well, you know what message with Donald Trump he he's going by the Armstrong report, the OnSong report was written by, you know, a distinguished lawyer who, who worked for the police department named Michael Armstrong. And it just shows you what this man deals with. When people read that report. It's about a 50 page document. And it brings about theories of how the thing that we're still guilty, and all those theories have numerous holes in them. None of them will stand up in court.

Dominic Carter  7:55  
Would you like to one day meet Donald Trump?

Raymond Santana  7:57  
No, I have no desire to at all. Why not? Unless it came with an apology.

Dominic Carter  8:03  
So if Donald Trump apologized to you, you would meet with him? Yeah, maybe we both know that. That's probably not gonna happen.

Raymond Santana  8:11  
So we don't even entertain that thought. Wow.

Dominic Carter  8:16  
You have said that you feel you're still I would suspicion by many people. Is that accurate?

Raymond Santana  8:23  
Yes. You know, that's the bloggers, you know, we call them you know, the, the internet gangsters who still like to get on social media to and cultures who write articles that say that we're still guilty. None of them have no real evidence to prove that. But you know, they all by the Armstrong report.

Dominic Carter  8:40  
Did police now that you look back at this? Did police tricked you into a confession?

Raymond Santana  8:46  
Yes, definitely. It was called hurtin it was trickery. They use everything in the book against us, you know, the, you know, the taken away of the basic necessities, you know, the sleep, no water, you know, being a question and it's cold in here. You know, this, this goes back to the read technique, the nine steps on how to get a confession, then use that to the team.

Dominic Carter  9:07  
How long were you in a room when this happened? But by police in the district attorney on

Raymond Santana  9:14  
this estimate that was in there over 15 to 30 hours?

Dominic Carter  9:18  
in one room? Yes. With no food, no food, and no sleep, no sleep. A lot of people watching us right now. They have a hard time understanding that someone would confess to a crime that they didn't commit. Yeah. And how did you respond to that?

Raymond Santana  9:38  
You know, first people have to know the dynamics of a false confession, what takes place around it? Like I just told you, you know, the no sleep, the no food, they've been in a room for, you know, several hours. You know, the good cop bad cops, that stuff that you see on Law and Order, which is true. It happens all the time. But the difference is that those people are going to those situations, nine times 10 or 14, they minus, or, you know, maybe they had don't have a higher education level, or just fresher. When you walk into something that's unknown, you don't know what's gonna happen to you, you feel at this point that the police can kill you and get away with it. As we see it happens all the time. So when you walk into an element that is unsure of that you don't know when it's gonna stop, how long is fast is going to take that starts to break you down. 

Dominic Carter  10:23  
Present. How do you feel about police officers?

Raymond Santana  10:27  
You know, my, I think, for us, when we speak about this all the time, it's about those who run the police force, those who are in charge those who make the rules, the policies and procedures. Those are the ones that we got to hold accountable. You know, growing up, you've seen a police officer, when I was real little I lived in the Bronx and a police officer come in and he knew the whole neighborhood. He knew the store owners, he knew my mother, he knew my father. And now there's none of that there's no policing community relationship. Um, so I can't put the whole blame on so called police officers. Because I have come across numerous police officers who support the Central Park fire.

Dominic Carter  11:06  
You feel you didn't have a voice in 1989? That's correct. I did. What do you say that?

Raymond Santana  11:11  
I was? I was 14 years old. Um, I didn't know the system. You know, I was a timid kid afraid. And not that many people stood up for us. I came from a big family. A lot of thought I was guilty. That's why my own family and family. That's why my bill money was never raised.

Dominic Carter  11:31  
So this requires a stop. A full stop. Raymond Santana says some of his own family members didn't believe in his innocence. And let's look at his situation. He's a teenager and has to remain in jail, waiting for his trial, accused of a horrible crime. What does all this mean? in human terms? Raymond Santana, never even attended a high school dance. And his mother died of cancer while he was locked up. The Central Park case almost completely destroyed his father. But at least with his father, innocence all these years later, has meant redemption.

Raymond Santana  12:23  
Now he's a very, he's he's a proud man. And back in 89, he went through so much he right he got ridiculed at work. He got ridiculed in the neighborhood, he developed a drinking problem. Um, and now, you know, he has on a 360 I can't get him to be quiet. You know, when the film came out? He wanted posters, t shirts. And he tells the whole world if you can,

Dominic Carter  12:47  
what was the worst part of this experience for you?

Raymond Santana  12:52  
Besides going to jail losing my freedom?

Dominic Carter  12:55  
Well, at least you can laugh as

Raymond Santana  12:58  
well, you know, along the way. We lost a lot of people. My mom's passed away when I was in prison due to cancer. 

Dominic Carter  13:04  
How do you feel about the Central Park jogger?

Raymond Santana  13:07  
You know, with the jogger. You know, we understand that she went through a dramatic injury, right. And she was able to recover and come back. And in this process her in the prosecutor and some of the detectives became very good friends. And so here you have somebody telling you for these years that we guilty, not Reyes comes along, and he pulls do DNA testing that we're innocent, the same people still telling you we guilty. And that's something that's very difficult to deal with. And so we you know, we never pushed the issue for her to meet us. We said if she ever wanted to talk to what she can come and talk to us.

Dominic Carter  13:40  
Would you like to meet her?

Raymond Santana  13:42  
Yes, because I know that she has a lot of questions that she would like to ask,

Dominic Carter  13:46  
really, why would you like to meet as far as you just said, as far as questions, but why would you Raymond Santana like to meet her

Raymond Santana  13:52  
because I feel that she was victimized twice, not only by Mateus Reyes, but also by the people who she befriend who told her this lie for all these years. And I still think that's an a certain extent she still believes it.

Dominic Carter  14:03  
Did you throughout the years, become emotional and break down and say, I'll never be able to get over this.

Raymond Santana  14:11  
Yes. Yes. Which was landed me back in prison back in, in, in 1998 99. You know, when I when I caught the drug case, because that was the time for me where I thought I hit rock bottom and I felt there was no other obstacle for me and I just gave up. I said, you know what the hell with it, I can't get a job. I can't move on. I'm gonna just do the best that I can.

Dominic Carter  14:33  
You couldn't get a job.

Raymond Santana  14:34  
I could not get a job. I filled out numerous applications. And you know, when they say, Well, have you been convicted of a crime? Yes. You know, what is that crime raping the first degree, there's no job.

Dominic Carter  14:45  
So you you've been a tortured soul for a very long time, very long time. What are you going to do with all that money?

Raymond Santana  14:54  
You know, it's it's not a lot of money. You know, but Don't you know the only the only option that I look at the only thing I look at now is that I have the ability now to have options, which means that I'm not going to be so quick to rush to judgment. I'm just going to enjoy this moment and take my time and whatever I decide to do.

Dominic Carter  15:14  
So I would imagine even at a young age of 40, that you are in retirement now and that you don't work. No, I'm working, you're working, I'm still working a multi million dollar settlement and you're working,

Raymond Santana  15:26  
I'm working, I'm working, you know, because I never had a job. You know, I had jobs for short periods of time. This is a job that I can say that, you know, I can own. I got a job, I'm doing something. I'm putting food on the table. You know, I'm paying bills, you know, and it's part of healing. It's part of making me whole. And so I'm not so quick to just leave it.

Dominic Carter  15:50  
And what do you do? I read somewhere that you you work for a local union?

Raymond Santana  15:54  
Yes, I worked for 11, eight, nine SEIU. I'm in the pension and benefits fun. So I process documents all day.

Dominic Carter  16:01  
How do you feel let's talk politics for a second. Before I let you go here. How do you feel the Corporation Counsel, the chief lawyer for the city of New York, that permitted the settlement to go forward as a former US attorney and African American by the name of Zachary Carter. And of course, Mayor de Blasio ran on a platform of if he was elected, he would settle this case, we both know if the mayor didn't want this case settled, it wouldn't be settled.

Raymond Santana  16:27  
That's that's hundred percent correct.

Dominic Carter  16:28  
So how do you feel about the mayor,

Raymond Santana  16:30  
I'm, I'm grateful. I'm grateful for the mayor, you know, that that he vowed to make a change with this city and, and to take away that line of divides, and bring them up, bring us all together? I'm glad that you know, he said, You know what, there was an injustice that was done here. And we need to correct this wrong. You know, I'm glad that Dante came out with this Afro and his Brooklyn sweater, you know, and it brought us that close to the mail, you know, to see that his kids represented our youth, you know, our future, you know, um, and so I was, you know, I was, I was just grateful at the end of the day,

Dominic Carter  17:07  
Mr. Santana, what do you say to people watching you right now, they say, you know what, I'm not so sure. These guys has something to do with this.

Raymond Santana  17:16  
You know, I tell them, I say you don't, at the end of the day, you don't have to believe me. There's numerous documents that you can read. You know, that's the report by Nancy Ryan, which is a 52 page document that explains how we innocent, you know, if you want to read the officer report, that's fine. You know, I you know, I challenged all media, you know, 510 years from now, when all those of documents that are marked confidential become open to the public, if they ever do read them. Jim Dwyer says that they will over 94,000 documents marked confidential. Is that to cover something that we did? No, I doubt that.

Dominic Carter  17:53  
What do you think about the media? I mean, you were 14 years old, you didn't know anything about the media, or newspapers or television reporters, or ratings or selling papers? What do you think about the media now that you're 40 years old, and you've been through this experience,

Raymond Santana  18:10  
you know, it? Now, you know, when I got old, and I started to do my research and find out that there were over 400 articles written on us within the first two weeks, in this case, you know, 100 400, or 400 articles written on the five of us was packed everything that bar mean, of course, Wolf Pack, urban terrorists, the term super predator,

Dominic Carter  18:30  
you were aware of what was being said about you?

Raymond Santana  18:32  
back then No, just the label of the wild day. The Urban terrorists, but even deeper than that, you know, the super predator terminology came because of this case, where 41 states changed their juvenile laws to make them harsher, that I didn't know about until I got older. You know, and so now, you know, what we do is we actually media, right? The wrong, write the correct stuff. You know, when we was exonerated, he was on page 15. put us on the front now, let everybody know what happened to us. Don't hide away from it. I want him to your part on the responsibility as the media going dig into those files and look at that stuff and put it out there. 

Dominic Carter  19:12  
I've noticed from observing you around the community, you're almost like a hero figure now is, is there anything you'd like to close with? That's on your mind? 

Raymond Santana  19:22  
The thing that we want people to know is that this is real force to fit convictions. false confessions happen all the time. And if you don't want to take our case, as an example, go to the Innocence Project. There are over three exonerations on it. This stuff happens all the time all across the country. And once we start to realize that is real, then we can start to affect change.

Dominic Carter  19:45  
I close this what you mentioned, prosecutions. Legends, legendary Manhattan district attorney Bob Morgan thought, I remember he sat down to do the interview with me and he admitted that his office made a mistake. That there was no DNA evidence and that you guys were not guilty. And he pressed immediately to have you released from prison. How do you feel about Mr. mogadore Grateful,

Raymond Santana  20:12  
grateful, grateful at the end of the day,

Dominic Carter  20:15  
grateful at the end of the day says Raymond Santana of the Central Park five. Today he lives in Atlanta, Georgia with his daughter and launched a clothing line called Park Madison NYC. The proceeds from one of his t shirts bearing the name of each member of the Central Park five is donated to the Innocence Project, which helps to free innocent people from prison. The story of the Central Park five has been told in a Netflix series when they see us

Announcer  20:57  
join us next time for conversations with Dominic Carter reached out to Dominic on Twitter at Dominic TV radio. Dominic looks forward to hearing from you. Thank you for joining us.

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