Wrongfully imprisoned black man Mike Pence refused to pardon slams 'racist' VP for praising Joe Arpaio
Keith Cooper, a man wrongfully convicted of an armed robbery he did not commit, during a press conference after he was pardoned by Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R). Image via screengrab.

A wrongfully imprisoned black man Mike Pence refused to pardon when he was governor of Indiana slammed the vice president for praising Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a man convicted for violating court orders barring him from enacting racist policing policies President Donald Trump pardoned last year.

The Indianapolis Star reported Wednesday that Keith Cooper, a man "convicted nearly 20 years ago of an armed robbery he did not commit," called Pence a "racist" who's guilty of promoting a pardoning "double standard" when he praises Arpaio as a champion of the "rule of law."

"You’ll praise a man who was guilty and then say, 'Okay, this man needs to be pardoned, he’s got more to bring back to society,'" Cooper told the Indy Star. "But me as a black man, I don’t have nothing to offer, so taking my life away, putting me in that cage, I guess that’s justified, even though I proved myself to be innocent."

"It just shows how Mike Pence really is," he continued. "Pence is a hypocrite."

After moving from Chicago to Indiana to start a new life, Cooper spent eight years in prison after being wrongfully convicted in 1997. He was freed after prosecutors used DNA evidence to prove someone else had committed the crime, and although the state parole board urged Pence to pardon Cooper during his four years as Indiana's governor, he declined doing so. His Republican successor Eric Holcomb pardoned the wrongfully imprisoned man just a month after taking office.