June 10, 1997: After 27 years in prison (8 in solitary confinement), Geronimo Pratt was released on $25,000 bail.
His murder conviction would be vacated, on the grounds that the prosecution had concealed evidence that might have influenced the jury’s verdict. The prosecution had not disclosed the extent to which a key witness against Pratt, Julius Butler, provided information to the FBI and the Los Angeles Police Department. An appeals court ruled this fact to be “‘favorable’ to the defendant, ‘suppressed’ by a law enforcement agency, and ‘material’ to the jury’s decision to convict” in 1999 and upheld the decision, freeing him.
Geronimo Pratt eventually received $4.5 million as settlement for false imprisonment.
A federal judge approved the settlement of the civil suit: The city of L.A. paid $2.75 million of the settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice paying the $1.75 million remainder.
Geronimo Pratt, also known as Geronimo ji-Jaga and Geronimo ji-Jaga Pratt, was a Vietnam vet but was famously known as a high-ranking member of the Black Panther Party. The Federal Bureau of Investigation targeted him in a COINTELPRO operation, which aimed to “neutralize Pratt as an effective BPP functionary.” Pratt was tried and convicted of the kidnap and murder of Caroline Olsen in 1972, and spent 27 years in prison, eight of which were in solitary confinement. Pratt was freed in 1997 when his conviction was vacated. He was working as a human rights activist up until the time of his death.
Pratt was also the godfather of the late rapper Tupac Shakur.
Pratt served two combat tours as a soldier in the Vietnam War, reaching the rank of sergeant and earning two Bronze Stars, a Silver Star, and two Purple Hearts.
He died of a heart attack in his adopted country, Tanzania, on June 3, 2011.
Finish Reading The Originally Post on
Daily Black History Facts