'The city had my back': Man exonerated of four killings gives $25,000 of gas to neighbors

·2 min read

A man who was exonerated of four killings after spending eight years in prison helped his fellow Detroit residents this week by giving away $25,000 in gas.

Davontae Sanford pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the shootings of four people in 2007 when he was 15. He said later that he was innocent and accepted a plea deal only because he was poorly represented by an attorney.

The convictions were dropped in 2016 after officials cited police misconduct. The Detroit City Council agreed in March to pay $7.5 million to settle Sanford’s claims that police violated his rights.

Tuesday, cars lined up at a BP gas station in Detroit after Sanford funded $25,000 in free gasoline. The giveaway was available to seniors and woman. Sanford explained he wanted to help “vulnerable” groups.

“When I was in prison and I didn't have nobody, next thing you know, I have people from all over the world fighting for me, trying to get me out of prison because I was innocent," Sanford said Tuesday, according to Fox 2 in Detroit. "I came home with nothing. The city had my back, so it's only right I give back to the city and I give back to the most vulnerable, which is the women and the elderly."

Sanford told the outlet, “We in tough times right now, and I feel as if what I’m doing, it may not be much, but I feel as if it’s going to go a long way."

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Davontae Sanford, 23, smiles as he walks out of  the Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility with Valerie Newman, one of his lawyers, Wednesday, June 8, 2016, after almost 10 years behind bars for a quadruple homicide officials now believe he did not commit. Professional hitman Vincent Smothers has said he, not Sanford, killed four people in a drug house in Detroit in 2007.
Davontae Sanford, 23, smiles as he walks out of the Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility with Valerie Newman, one of his lawyers, Wednesday, June 8, 2016, after almost 10 years behind bars for a quadruple homicide officials now believe he did not commit. Professional hitman Vincent Smothers has said he, not Sanford, killed four people in a drug house in Detroit in 2007.

Gas prices spiked this year, reaching a national average of more than $5 a gallon. Prices dropped in recent weeks, and the national average cost for a gallon of regular gasoline was at $4.033 Tuesday, according to AAA. In Michigan, the average cost of a gallon of regular gas was $4.004.

Contributing: Jordan Mendoza, USA TODAY; The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Exonerated man Davontae Sanford gives $25,000 of free gas in Detroit