INWOOD — A developmentally disabled man accused of mugging an Inwood resident with a BB gun has been cleared after investigators found DNA on the weapon was not his.
Jermaine Yarborough, 24, had been arrested nearly a year ago after being picked out of a lineup after the victim told police he suspected an employee at Indian Road Café, where Yarborough works, was his attacker.
He was charged with second-degree robbery after the victim identified him as the man who stole $35 from his wallet after threatening him with a pellet gun and wrestling with him on the northeastern steps of Isham Park.
"It was wrong that they charged me just because someone picked me out of a lineup," Yarborough said while sitting with his boss, Jason Minter, at the café last week.
“It was horrible.”
Yarborough, who lives with his grandmother in the Bronx, said he was initially stopped and searched by police on Isham Street, near Broadway, moments after the victim was mugged on Feb. 9, 2011.
He said he had exited the subway and was on his way to work when police stopped him and told him he "fit the description" of the mugger.
"I don’t even walk through the park," Yarborough said of his daily route to and from work.
Yarborough was initially released on the day of the crime. The victim told DNAinfo last year that he was unable to properly identify his assailant because his glasses had been knocked off and broken during the mugging.
But he was arrested at work more than three weeks later.
"It was horrible how the police came filing into the restaurant to arrest Jermaine," said Minter, who co-owns the cafe.
"I knew he couldn’t have done this and I think the police knew that, too."
The victim then chose him out of a line up at the 34th Precinct, according to the former commanding officer of the 34th Precinct, Deputy Inspector Jose Navarro, immediately after the incident. Deputy Inspector Barry Buzzetti replaced Navarro during the summer of 2011.
Police did not respond to requests for comment.
"I'm glad the situation has cleared up for Jermaine and his family, and hope there wasn't too much grief caused throughout the process," the victim wrote in an email.
"Never wanted to cause a fuss with anyone's life."
Although Yarborough said he is frustrated that it took nearly a year and five court appearances to clear his name, he said he looks forward to putting the situation behind him and getting back to the things he loves — helping out in the kitchen at work and playing computer games.
"I don’t ever want to go through this again," he said. "I just want to put it behind me."