Community activist sues over City Grill massacre reward money

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Community activist Darnell Jackson is suing Reverend Darius Pridgen and his church over reward money involving the City Grill massacre.

On August 25, 2010, the man who would later be convicted of the City Grill massacre was brought to News 4 television studios by Jackson, who says he took a great risk and later suffered consequences for what he did. He believes he is entitled to all the reward money, which he believes totals more than $20,000.

“I put my life at stake,” said Jackson. “They threatened to murder me…I got sick. I was stressed out. I lost some property. I’ve been a financial disaster…all because I tried to make the City of Buffalo safe.”

At least $15,000 in donated reward money was publicly reported to have been raised by Rev. Darius Pridgen, and collected through his True Bethel Baptist Church. Jackson, however, was later offered a thousand dollars for his role in McCray’s surrender. He rejected the offer.

Jackson tells News 4, “The money was for whoever turned him in. That’s why I have a lawyer, and that’s why I’m going to fight them.”

Reverend Pridgen says he did not want to be responsible for deciding who got the reward money and turned over to the Erie County District Attorney’s Office. Prosecutors later distributed the cash to witnesses who played a role in McCray’s conviction.

“It was the District Attorney’s Office that made those decisions,” said Rev. Pridgen. “They’re the ones who interviewed people. They’re the ones who received those confidential tips.”

Jackson says the “stated” reward, which appeared on newscasts, specifically was for information leading to McCray’s arrest.

However, Reverend Pridgen’s attorney, Gabe Ferber, believes others had rightful claim to that money, and that the reward was later broadened to include information leading to the conviction of McCray.

“We don’t believe the lawsuit is justified, because at the time, many people came forward to claim part of that reward,” Ferber said.

Jackson’s attorney, Scott Lupiani, disagrees.

He said, “Reverend Pridgen’s ‘contract’ was for the arrest of Riccardo McCray. Mr. McCray was arrested, and he was arrested solely by the results of Mr. Jackson’s assistance.”

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