The nearly 40-year-old murder case involving a San Francisco police sergeant allegedly gunned down by members of a militant black organization inside a police station will return to court in December.
Supporters of the eight men originally charged in 2007 by Attorney General Jerry Brown with murder and conspiracy charges relating to the killing of police Sgt. John Young at Ingleside Station on Aug. 29, 1971, rallied outside San Francisco Superior Court this morning.
San Francisco Supervisors John Avalos and Eric Mar joined the rally to dismiss the charges against 60-year-old Francisco Torres.
Torres, of Queens, N.Y., remains the last of the men still facing charges, accused of murder and conspiracy to commit murder. He is out of custody.
Avalos said Young’s murder was “a horrible tragedy,” but the decades-old case has been “tainted with confessions that were gathered through torture,” he said.
Law enforcement “at times can be a blunt instrument,” Avalos said.
Charges have already been dismissed against five of the men, but two others–who are serving life terms in prison in New York for the killings of two police officers there–have entered pleas in the case.
Herman Bell, 61, the alleged gunman, pleaded guilty earlier this year to voluntary manslaughter and Jalil Bottom, 57, pleaded no contest to conspiracy to commit voluntary manslaughter.
The case involves an alleged plot by members of the Black Liberation Army, a militant offshoot of the Black Panthers, to murder police officers, blow up police stations, and rob banks as part of a violent resistance movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The attorney general’s office revived the case after it said new fingerprint evidence had been uncovered.
Supporters of the men claim there is no such new evidence, and that confessions obtained in the 1970s were extracted by torture.
After a brief appearance in court his morning, Torres’ next hearing was scheduled for Dec. 3 for a motion to dismiss the charges against him and to set further dates in the case. A preliminary hearing in the case is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 18, and is estimated to last two to three weeks.