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Defendants appear in decades-old
San Francisco cop-killing case

By Brent Begin, Bay City News Service

January 29, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - Four men who prosecutors say were part of a conspiracy to kill police officers during a radical political struggle over 30 years ago appeared in court today in front of cheering supporters.

Ray Michael Boudreaux, 64, Richard Brown, 65, and Henry Jones, 71, did not enter pleas today on charges of murdering San Francisco police Sgt. John Young at Ingleside station on the night of Aug. 29, 1971.

Richard O'Neal, a 57-year-old San Francisco resident, is not charged in the death of O'Neal, but he is being prosecuted alongside the other men on conspiracy to kill a police officer. He also did not enter a plea today.

Several family members, friends and other supporters attended the hearing. Superior Court Judge Donna Alyson Little called the court to order after many of them stood and blurted protests like, "false charges."

State prosecutors say eight men are responsible for the cold-blooded military-style attack on Young and a civilian clerk at the police station.

Also charged in the case are Herman Bell, 59, and Anthony Bottom, 55, who are both in custody in New York, Francisco Torres, 58, Harold Taylor, 58, and Ronald Stanley Bridgeforth, 62. Bridgeforth is currently at large.

"Today is the first step in bringing the men who killed Sgt. John Young to justice," said Maggy Krell, deputy state attorney general. "This case is not about the Black Panther party. It's about the Black Liberation Army, a group whose sole mission was to kill police officers... This case is about real, substantial, independent and voluntary evidence..."

According to an affidavit released last week, the attorney general's office charged eight men in Young's killing based on fingerprint and ballistics evidence. Also, prosecutors are relying on witness testimony from people directly involved in the Black Liberation Army's tactics between 1968 and 1973.

Boudreaux's attorney, Michael Burt, said after the hearing that the state would be relying on the testimony of Ruben Scott, whose testimony was formerly thrown out of court due to torture tactics by law enforcement.

"Three different courts have found that the statements these men made are inadmissible because of improper police conduct," said Burt, who added that the men had been investigated by at least five grand juries without being indicted.

O'Neal's attorney, James Bustamante, also said that there was no new evidence presented in this case and that witnesses weren't credible.

"All of it's going to be challenged," he said. "I don't think there's a lot of credibility. The stuff that's been around for 35 years is not solid."

Outside the courtroom, friends and family of the four men called for the attorney general's office to drop the charges. Linda Boston, a woman who has known O'Neal since junior high school, said she couldn't believe the man she knows could be involved in a plot to kill police.

"Everything inside of me dropped when I heard this," Boston said. "It's impossible that something like this can happen to a good man who has worked for the city for over 23 years and has done everything that I know in the right way."

Today's arraignment was postponed until Feb. 14 when more of the defendants are expected to arrive in San Francisco.

Copyright © 2007 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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State prosecutors build case in 1971 politically motivated killing of SFPD officer