Man released after being wrongfully convicted, imprisoned for 30 years

It was perhaps the most fanfare anyone has ever received walking across a street to Philadelphia's City Hall. A crowd of people cheered and clapped to see Eric Riddick take those steps across the street. They were among the first steps he's taken as a free man in nearly 30 years.

Video Transcript

- 51-year-old Eric Riddick was released from prison today after serving more than 29 years behind bars for a murder he insists he did not commit. Action News race and culture reporter TaRhonda Thomas has that story tonight.

CHRISTINE RIDDICK: Free at last. After 30 years, free at last.

TARHONDA THOMAS: A walk across the street, something Eric Riddick hasn't done in 29 years.

- Yes

- Woo!

- Woo!

- Yeah!

TARHONDA THOMAS: Walking out of a hearing that undid what Riddick's lawyer says never should have been done.

EMEKA IGWE: He was innocent of this crime that he was accused of from 1991.

ERIC RIDDICK: They say it takes a village to raise a child. But this is testimony that it takes a village to raise justice.

TARHONDA THOMAS: Convicted of murdering his own friend in Southwest Philadelphia, a crime his mother says was impossible for her son to commit.

CHRISTINE RIDDICK: The legwork it took to prove my son's innocence, that wasn't done by the Philadelphia Police Department.

TARHONDA THOMAS: Even after the sole eyewitness recanted his testimony twice, Riddick's conviction stuck, leaving him to sit in prison, innocent, for 29 and 1/2 years.

ERIC RIDDICK: I fought all these years to rectify my wrongful conviction, you know. But my freedom at the time wasn't in season. So today is testimony that justice is definitely in season.

TARHONDA THOMAS: His case was largely ignored until the prison he was in got a very high profile inmate-- hip hop star, Meek Mill. He pushed the case into the national spotlight. Meek posting today, quote, "I gave him my word when I left I wouldn't leave the men behind without real help."

EMEKA IGWE: And at some point, they're going to have a reunion to celebrate Eric coming home.

TARHONDA THOMAS: Students at Georgetown also helped by re-examining the case with the conviction Integrity unit of the DA's office and so many others working towards this day--

CHRISTINE RIDDICK: Innocent man walking here.

TARHONDA THOMAS: --this walk into freedom.

CHRISTINE RIDDICK: Innocent man walking here.

TARHONDA THOMAS: With his family and friends surrounding him, Eric Riddick is looking forward to reconnecting, going to dinner tonight. But the fight is not over yet. His lawyers are actually petitioning Governor Tom Wolf for a full and complete pardon. At City Hall, TaRhonda Thomas, Channel 6 Action News.