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Supporters rally for 8 former black militants accused in '71 police killing

Supporters rally for 8 former black militants accused in '71 police killing

Lawyers and civil rights activists rallied support Sunday for eight former black militants arrested in the 1971 killing of a police officer, saying the men were tortured during an earlier investigation.
At a news conference before the premiere of a documentary on the decades-old abuse allegations, supporters described last week's arrests as part of a law enforcement vendetta against the Black Panthers and other black liberation groups that has lasted 40 years.
"The case began in torture. It's now moved into fabricated evidence," said Stuart Hanlon, a lawyer for one of the men accused of storming the lobby of a San Francisco police station nearly 36 years ago and killing Sgt. John V. Young, 51, with a shotgun and injuring a civilian clerk.
Prosecutors describe the men as former members of the Black Liberation Army, a violent offshoot of the Black Panthers, and say Young's killing was part of the BLA's broader conspiracy of violence against law enforcement in the 1960s and 70s.
Recent analyses of old shotgun shells and a fingerprint on a cigarette lighter left at the crime scene provided new evidence that led to Tuesday's arrests, according to court papers filed by prosecutors.
"We believe that the evidence we have put together is more than enough to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that these men are responsible for this terrible crime," said Nathan Barankin, a spokesman for California Attorney General Jerry Brown.
Seven men were arrested Tuesday on charges of murder and conspiracy, and an eighth man was arrested on a conspiracy charge. A ninth suspect is believed to have fled the country.
Three BLA members, including one of those arrested last week, Harold Taylor, were indicted in 1975 for killing Young. The case was eventually dismissed because the men had allegedly been tortured by police officers during interrogations.
In "Legacy of Torture," a documentary that debuted Sunday, Taylor, 58, described being beaten, shocked and suffocated by New Orleans police before being questioned by two San Francisco police detectives investigating the case.
"I followed their whole script. Everything they told me to say, I said it," Taylor said in the film, claiming torture was used to coerce him into making a false confession.
New Orleans police spokeswoman Bambi Hall said the department had no knowledge of the case. Phone messages left Sunday with the San Francisco Police Department were not immediately returned.


Updated : 2021-04-23 01:00 GMT+08:00