State prosecutors build case in 1971 politically
motivated killing of SFPD officer
No evidence revealed
SFPD spokesperson Neville Gittens stands beside a poster
of slain SFPD officer Sgt. John Young who was murdered in cold
during a politcally motivated attack on the Ingleside police station
By Brent Begin, Bay City News Service
January 23, 2007
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - The California attorney general's
office is building a case against eight former members of the
Black Liberation Army in connection to the 1971 death of a San
Francisco police sergeant.
Many of the men had been in and out of custody on suspicion of
killing Sgt. John Young in a politically motivated attack, but
they had since been released without a conviction.
Investigators said today that that these arrests were based on
evidence uncovered in the past years using new technology and
forensics of all kinds. Deputy California Attorney General Maggy
Krell did not release that evidence today.
Deputy California Attorney General Maggy Krell
San Francisco resident Richard Brown, 65; Ray Michael Boudreaux,
64, and Henry "Hank" Watson Jones, 71, both of Altadena,
Calif.; Herman Bell, 59, and Anthony Bottom, 55, both currently
incarcerated in New York; Francisco Torres, 58, of Queens, NY;
and Harold Taylor, 58, of Panama City, Fla., have all been charged
with the murder of Young and with conspiracy to murder police
Richard O'Neal, 57, of San Francisco was also arrested on conspiracy
to murder police officers but was not charged as an active participant
in the murder of Young.
Another suspect, Ronald Stanley Bridgeforth, 62, has also been
charged with murder, conspiracy to commit murder and aggravated
assault on a police officer in connection with his participation
in the murder of Young, although his whereabouts is unknown.
Attorneys representing the men said that they have not seen any
new evidence that would implicate their clients. Michael Burt,
who represents Boudreaux, said today he had no idea why prosecutors
would continue this case now despite the fact that a federal grand
jury was unable to indict his client in 2005.
"Well that's the big question," Burt said. "This
case is 35 years old and you have to have some pretty good evidence
to bring back a case this old."
Burt added that Boudreaux, a Vietnam veteran and an electrician
for the county of Los Angeles, was in no way involved in a six-year
conspiracy to attack the Ingleside station and other targets.
"As far as I know the government is charging my client with
murder," Burt said. "My client did not murder anybody.
The government has even said that my client was not at the scene
of the crime."
Young, 51, was working at the station on Aug. 29, 1971 when two
men entered the station, stuck a shotgun through a hole in the
protective glass and killed the 22-year veteran.
Four years later, a San Francisco judge dismissed a case against
Boudreaux and two other men, all arrested in New Orleans, because
police there reportedly used torture to extract information.
In 2005, Boudreaux was once again imprisoned along with Jones,
Brown and Taylor for refusing to testify in front of a state criminal
grand jury investigating the case. They were released when the
grand jury's term expired.
Those men were taken into custody today along with Torres and
O'Neal, according to police.
O'Neal was arrested early this morning at his San Francisco home
in the 700 block of McAllister Street, and police arrested Brown
in the 1000 block of Fillmore Street also this morning.
The charges of conspiracy to kill law enforcement officers occurred
between Oct. 21, 1968 and 1973, according to police. They include
attempted murder on four different officers, the bombing of a
police officer's funeral, the murder of two New York City police
officers, the attempted bombing of Mission police station and
three armed bank robberies.
Deputy Chief Morris Tabak of the San Francisco Police Department's
special investigations bureau said the killing, which also left
a civilian employee at the station injured, was motivated by radical
"The sentiment during the late 60s early 70s was a strong
anti-government sentiment and across this country there were revolutionary
groups including the BLA that were bent on creating terror and
chaos by assassinating law enforcement officers, and the only
purpose was not who they were but what they represented, and we
believe the motive behind this particular group was just in the
furtherance of those revolutionary views...
"It's a real victory for law enforcement that these folks
will finally have to answer for their actions over three decades
ago," he added.
Deputy Chief Morris Tabak
Police Chief Heather Fong took time today at a news conference
to recall the life of Young, a World War II veteran.
"He was doing community policing before that word was even
coined," Fong said. "One of the most poignant memories
of Sgt. Young was how he would take underprivileged youth to the
now-defunct Playland at the beach and give them money so that
they could have a good time."
San Francisco Police Chief Heather Fong
Young had been promoted to Sergeant just six months before he
was murdered. He bled to death on the floor of Ingleside station
after he was shot at pointblank range in the neck and shoulder,
according to police accounts.
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