After a jury admitted deadlock in a multibillion-dollar settlement suit over the police killing of Black Panther Fred Hampton in 1969, a federal judge declares the officers acquitted.
Chicago Police Officers Acquitted in Deadly Black Panther Raid
FLOYD KALBER: For a year and a half a Chicago jury heard testimony in the case of the Black Panther Party versus seven policemen. For thirty-five hours the jury deliberated. Suddenly yesterday, the case ended, surprising everyone, and Gene Randall has details.
GENE RANDALL: It began more than seven years ago, with a pre-dawn police raid on a Black Panther apartment on Chicago’s west side. By the time the bullets stopped flying, Panther leaders Mark Clark and Fred Hampton were dead. Four others in the apartment were wounded.
Authorities insisted the Panthers opened fire first, that police were forced to use superior firepower. But the FBI said later that the Panthers fired only one shot. The police had fired close to a hundred. Yesterday afternoon, a federal court jury said it was hopelessly deadlocked over a $48 million damage suit filed by the families of Mark Clark and Fred Hampton and those that survived the police raid.
Judge Joseph Sam Perry thanked the jury then unexpectedly granted a defense motion for a directed verdict of acquittal. After eighteen months and close to 40,000 pages of testimony, it was a move that stunned the Panther attorneys.
JEFFREY HAAS, Attorney: The judge, not content with throwing out the higher-ups, has now thrown out the shooters themselves, and it’s obvious he’s part of this effort to cover up the murder of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark.
GENE RANDALL: As the plaintiffs’ attorneys complained about the verdict, acquitted defendant James Davis admitted he was not the police officer he once was.
JAMES DAVIS: Well, they have sort of, they have affected my attitude as a police officer, but I think my faith was restored today.
GENE RANDALL: The losers say they’ll file an appeal, which means the case may have to be tried all over again. Gene Randall, NBC News, Chicago.
The head of the Chicago Police Department has been fired amid widespread criticism over how authorities responded to a white police officer fatally shooting a black teenager last year.