NEW YORK (Reuters) – A new film based on the true story of a man wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for murder seeks the silver lining in human perseverance while exploring the flaws in the U.S. justice system.
“Crown Heights,” in theaters on Friday, follows the story of Brooklyn native Colin Warner, who served two decades in prison after he was wrongfully convicted of the 1980 murder of a young man, and Warner’s friend Carl ‘KC’ King, who took up the long fight for Warner’s freedom.
Lakeith Stanfield, who plays Warner, told Reuters he believed the film explored the “silver lining in tragedy” in showing the friendship of the two men.
“I tend to focus on the aspects of it that highlight perseverance and the human will and the human spirit and how unbreakable that can be. How one must stick to their guns, for lack of a better term, in order to see that there’s justice and change brought about,” Stanfield said.
At the age of 18, Warner was charged with murdering a teenager outside a high school in Brooklyn, based on the account of a 14-year-old boy who said he saw what happened and pointed to a mug shot of Warner when asked by police to identify the suspect. Warner was imprisoned and denied parole, refusing to confess to a crime he said he did not commit.
King spent years learning the intricacies of the legal system and eventually helped convince the actual perpetrator to come forward and confess to the murder. Warner was exonerated and released after serving 21 years in prison.
Nnamdi Asomugha, who plays King, said he hopes the film sparks a broader conversation around the injustices in the judicial system that failed Warner’s case.
“I think as we continue to find our ways to sort of highlight these sort of issues, whether it’s through art or it’s through any other means that you can, I think it can lead to action … and that’s how you fix it.”
Reporting by Alicia Powell for Reuters TV; Editing by Dan Grebler