CHICAGO (AP) A former Black Panther Party member accused of
shooting a police officer in 1969 and then fleeing to Canada wants to
return to the United States to stand trial, his attorney says.
Chicago authorities accuse Joseph Coleman Pannell, now 58, of
shooting Officer Terrence Knox after the officer stopped him for
questioning outside a South Side store. Pannell was free on bond in
that case in 1973 when he fled Chicago.
Pannell, who changed his name to Douglas Gary Freeman and was a
library research assistant outside Toronto, has waived extradition
and will return to Chicago within 30 days, his attorney, Neil Cohen,
told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Pannell has been jailed since his 2004 arrest in a suburb of Toronto.
A judge in 2005 ordered Pannell returned to Chicago to face trial on
charges of attempted murder and aggravated battery. But his lawyers
appealed, saying Pannell feared for his life and would not get a fair
trial in the U.S.
In 2006, Canadian Justice Minister Vic Toews denied Pannell's
request. Pannell's attorneys mounted a last appeal of Toews' decision.
Knox was on patrol when he approached Pannell, then 19 and AWOL from
the Navy, and asked why he wasn't inside a nearby high school.
Knox said he almost lost his right arm because of the bullet wounds,
and his life was saved when a fellow police officer stuck a finger
into his arm to stop the bleeding from a torn artery.
Pannell was arrested in 1971, skipped bail, then was re-arrested in
1973 and skipped bail again, according to court records.
Knox said Philip Cline was the only Chicago Police superintendent
since 1973 to take an interest in tracking down Pannell. The
cold-case squad started investigating the case after Knox met with
Cline in 2004.
But Knox, 60, remains angry about the Cook County judges who twice
freed Pannell on bail in the 1970s.
"My position is the same," said the retired officer, who lives in
southwest suburban Orland Park. "I want the court system to do its
job. If he is innocent I will shake his hand. If he is guilty, I will
slam the door behind him and never look back."
Pannell, who had been fighting extradition, has changed his mind in
part because of what he views as a different political climate in the
United States, Cohen said.