After two tours of duty in Vietnam and fifty-five combat jumps Soldiers Medal, Air Medal, Purple Heart, Pratt enrolled in a “high potential” program at UCLA. In his earliest months on campus, wholesale acts of police brutality and racial violence inspired him to join the Panthers. As he became more active, he found himself subjected to a mysterious campaign of harassment. Years would pass before it finally came to light that he’d been targeted by J. Edgar Hoover and a systematic FBI counter-intelligence program whose admitted goal was to undermine black solidarity and “neutralize” Panther leaders. Among other victims, two of Pratt’s closest friends were killed in a gunfight triggered by federal agents provocateurs.The former Army sergeant and his Panther colleagues soon grew accustomed to being harassed and even held incommunicado for supposed offenses including “too many Negroes in one car” and “driving while black,” but Pratt was shocked to find himself under arrest for the brutal killing of a schoolteacher on a Santa Monica tennis court. Atty. Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. assured his client that the charges would be dropped, given that Pratt had been 350 miles away on the night of the murder and could prove it, but the 22-year-old defendant suspected a fix.His instincts proved correct. As a perplexed young Cochran struggled to prove Pratt’s innocence in open court, prosecution witnesses trooped to the stand to shade the truth or lie. Exculpatory evidence disappeared in police stations and the L.A. District Attorney’s office. FBI “moles” infiltrated defense sessions and monitored Cochran’s phone calls. One improbable ruling after another descended from the Superior Court bench. In some of the most riveting chapters ever written about judicial corruption, Olsen takes readers inside the trial, describing brazen misidentifications by key eyewitnesses, rigged line-ups, police indifference to finding the real killers, hints of prosecutorial misconduct and subornation, blatant judicial error, and the shattering testimony of a star witness whom Pratt had ousted from the Black Panthers for brutality and who gained his revenge as an FBI informant and paid perjurer a fact that was carefully concealed from the jury.
via LAST MAN STANDING.