New York

I-Team: Man Wrongfully Imprisoned on Murder Charge Reaches $800,000 Settlement With New York City

The Bronx district attorney's office says its investigation into the 2012 slaying of Hansell Arias is ongoing

What to Know

  • Enger Javier spent two years at Rikers awaiting a murder trial in the death of Hansell Arias only to have the charges against him dismissed
  • He was exonerated by surveillance video of the 2012 crime scene that showed him on a sidewalk, not involved in a murderous chase
  • The Bronx district attorney's office says its investigation into Arias' death is ongoing

A 27-year-old Bronx man jailed for two years at Rikers awaiting a murder trial before the charges against him were dropped has reached an $800,000 settlement with New York City, he exclusively told NBC 4 New York's I-Team. 

Enger Javier had been accused of stabbing a man named Hansell Arias to death in a brutal attack in Claremont in 2012. Javier had repeatedly denied any involvement in the slaying, but it wasn't until February 2016 that the district attorney dropped the charges against him. 

"To be honest with you, it don’t change nothing because they give me money but the cops still have their jobs," Javier said. "The DA is still doing the same thing. Maybe they do this to someone else. There’s gonna be another Enger.” 

Javier originally filed a $20 million notice of claim against the city for false arrest and malicious prosecution. He said he decided to settle to avoid a long legal process. A spokesman for the city's Law Department said in a statement that "settling this case was in the best interest of the city." 

Surveillance video from the crime scene had shown Javier standing on a Bronx sidewalk, holding a soda cup, as a group chases Arias, who by that point had already been stabbed in front of a nearby mechanic shop. 

One of the attackers can be seen running after Arias holding a knife; Arias is then stabbed again and beaten until he collapses in a McDonald's parking lot and dies. The video clearly shows Javier wasn't involved. 

Javier says the critical video surfaced only after private investigator Manual Gomez, who was hired by the family, got his hands on it. By then, Javier had been at Rikers for years. 

"He's not a part of this," Gomez said of Javier as he reviewed the video. "There are five individuals that attacked [Arias]. There's one main stabber and then there's two more that assisted in the beating. These are the guys that did the killing." 

Gomez claims he has identified the real killers -- all members of a notorious street gang called the Trinitarios -- and tracked them to Facebook, where he says one boasted about the Arias murder. Gomez claims he has also provided a mountain of evidence to the district attorney's office and homicide detectives in the 44th precinct that implicates at least two of the gang members in other crimes, including a 2010 machete attack in Manhattan. They have not been arrested. 

"I don't understand that," Gomez said. "These are serial killers." 

Arias' twin brother, Jansell, told the I-Team he provided many of the same names to detectives. 

"I'm very upset. This has been going on for four or five years now and everything has been the same," he says. 

Jansell Arias said he’s not convinced Javier wasn’t somehow indirectly involved in his brother's slaying, and he doesn't think Javier should get any money from the city. But he says he's most angry no one has been held accountable for the death of his twin. 

"He hasn’t really gone to peace," Jansell Arias said. "My mom is frustrated. He is my twin, so every time I call her or Facetime her, she sees him when she sees me. She gets all teary and stuff.” 

Javier declined to comment on Arias' statement and again stressed he was innocent. 

"I haven't put this behind me. I still think about this every day, all the lies in court, the DA lying in the front of the judge. It was unbelievable," he said. 

The district attorney's office said it is actively investigating Arias' death and that a new prosecutor has been assigned to the case. A spokewosman said 13 witnesses have been re-interviewed, including six videotaped by Gomez. One participant pleaded guilty to second-degree assault in May 2016 and was given a one-year sentence, she said. 

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