NYPD accused of beating man to coerce confession in 1990 subway slaying

Johnny Hincapie, seen here in 2015, is suing the NYPD, alleging he was beaten into making a coerced confession that wrongly landed him in prison for 25 years. Photo Credit: AP / Craig Ruttle

Johnny Hincapie served 25 years in prison before his conviction was vacated.

Johnny Hincapie, seen here in 2015, is suing the NYPD, alleging he was beaten into making a coerced confession that wrongly landed him in prison for 25 years.
Johnny Hincapie, seen here in 2015, is suing the NYPD, alleging he was beaten into making a coerced confession that wrongly landed him in prison for 25 years. Photo Credit: Marisol Diaz-Gordon

A man whose conviction was vacated after serving more than two decades in prison is suing the city and several members of the NYPD, alleging they coerced his confession to the crime.

Johnny Hincapie, now 45, was part of a group of seven teens convicted of fatally stabbing 22-year-old Brian Watkins, who died trying to protect his mother while the family was mugged on a Seventh Avenue subway platform in 1990.

The teenagers had come from Queens for a night of dancing at the Roseland Ballroom. The Watkins family was in town from Utah to see the U.S. Open.

According to the suit filed Thursday in Manhattan federal court, Hincapie, then 18, said he was near the station’s turnstiles, not on the platform, when the fatal mugging occurred. He has said he was beaten during the police interrogation to get him to confess.

Hincapie, along with several others, were convicted of felony murder, a charge that holds all participants in an attack responsible when it results in death.

In 2015, a state Supreme Court justice vacated Hincapie’s conviction and said he was entitled to a new trial. He had served 25 years in prison.

The suit filed Thursday names several members of the police department, including a detective who also was involved in the investigation of the infamous Central Park jogger case, in which five men were wrongly convicted.

A spokesman for the city’s Law Department said they are reviewing the case.

An attorney for Hincapie did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Alison Fox