Held in Wake of Panther Shootout
Oakland Tribune 8apr68
Saturday night's raging, 90-minute gun battle between eight armed men and police in West Oakland left Oakland Black Panther member Bobby James Hutton dead and four wounded.
The wounded included two police officers, hit by shotgun blasts, and two suspects, Eldridge Cleaver, 32, minister of information for the Oakland-based black militant group, and Warren Wells, 21, who gave a Richmond address.
Eight suspects, including Cleaver and Wells, were held on a variety of felony charges ranging from carrying a concealed weapon to attempted murder.
All the suspects are Negroes. Police said all are members of the Black Panther Party.
Police seized an arsenal of weapons and ammunition. Some of the 18 rifles and handguns seized were of military type and are not obtainable on the open market.
Hutton, the dead youth who would have been 18 on the 24th of this month, was felled as he emerged from a besieged home at 1218 28th St. He was hit at least seven times.
Police said that Hutton and Cleaver were holed up at 1218 28th Street. And were armed with two 9mm automatic pistols, two AR-15 and one M-14 military type automatic rifles and a large supply of ammunition, some of it armor piercing.
Others arrested, police said, were in other homes within a block and all were armed. The men who fled to other houses apparently did not fire at officers during the battle, authorities said.
Deputy Police Chief Robert Cazadd said that one of the suspects (it turned out to be Hutton) wearing a coat left the house and ran towards the officers. He said that Hutton was crouched over and the officers could not see his hands.
Officers called for him to halt, said Cazadd, and when he didn't, they opened fire. Hutton was the son of Mrs. Dollie Hutton of 896 56th St. Hutton was one of a score of armed Black Panthers who invaded the State Legislature last spring.
Wells was hit in the buttocks with a police slug and was take to Highland Hospital in fair condition under guard.
Cleaver, a staff writer for Ramparts Magazine, was shot in the leg, apparently during the battle. He was taken to the dispensary at San Quentin as a parole violator and late yesterday was transferred to the state prison hospital at Vacaville for security reasons, police said.
Records show that Cleaver was sent to state prison from Los Angeles County in March, 1958, on two counts of assaults with intent to commit murder and three counts of assault with a deadly weapon. He was paroled in December, 1966, and was still on paroled at the time of Saturday's shooting. As a parolee he could not have a firearm.
Oakland patrolmen Richard R. Jensen and Nolan R. Darnell were hit by shotgun blasts earlier. Jensen, the more seriously wounded, was reported in good condition. Darnell said he got off three shots, one of which hit Wells. Jensen, seriously wounded, did not fire his gun.
Two other officers suffered minor injuries.
The Eastbay remained calm yesterday, despite the Oakland gun battle and violence elsewhere in the nation following the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Memphis last week.
Deputy Chief Cazadd said the Saturday shooting started with what he called a "planned ambush" of police. He gave this account:
About 9:07 p.m. Saturday Jensen and Darnell stopped their patrol car in the 2800 block of Union Street to check a man they said was crouching down behind an auto with Florida license plates. It was one of four cars parked in a row.
The officers, police said, were getting out of their car when they were caught in a cross-fire from both sides of the street and in the rear. Their car was blasted with 49 bullet holes. Another police car was burned.
The officers radioed for help. Three dozen officers, some from the Emeryville Police Department, responded. A two square block area was sealed off.
The suspects ran around the corner and charged into a residence at 1218 28th St. Others ran to nearby house on 30th Street and Union Street.
Police, armed with automatic weapons, shotguns, handguns and teargas set up a siege of the house. They crouched behind cars and utility poles and exchanged fire with those inside. Searchlights illuminated the scene. Two residents of the 28th Street were allowed to leave while police held their fire.
The suspects inside returned the fire with a variety of automatic rifles and pistols.
Finally, officers fired barrages of teargas into the building. One cannister started a fire, but it was quickly extinguished. The suspects stumbled out of the front door.
Hutton was shot when he ran towards barricaded officers and refused to halt on command, Cazadd said. Police refused to say if Hutton was armed.
Black Panther Party Chairman Bobby Seale was bitterly critical of the police action. He told a news conference in Oakland yesterday that witnesses told him the Hutton was shot while attempting to surrender. Seale appeared in the Superior Court of Judge Redmond Staats today for a discussion by the court on a gun carrying charge that originated last May when he attempted to enter a municipal court with a loaded shotgun. The court continued the case until next Thursday at 2 p.m. to allow Seale's lawyer, Charles Garry, to present further arguments to quash the charge. Seale's bail was set at $500.
Other suspects arrested included Terry Cotton, 21, of 721 Brockhurst St., Oakland; Charles Bursey, 21, of 2846 McGee Ave, Berkeley; Wendell Wade, 23, who gave an Oakland address; David Hilliard, 25, of 3246 Magnolia St, Oakland; and Donnell Lankford, 18, of 1322 Lyon St., San Francisco.
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It is interesting to note that when Bobby Hutton was shot, he was not armed and could in no way be considered dangerous. Eyewitness accounts are diametrically opposed to this article other than the date and time it happened. The police lied about this and the newspaper just followed their lead. Rather than doing proper investigative reporting, the Tribune simply wrote what the police told them, as if it were the truth. Of course we all know now that it was far from the truth and that the US government was out to destroy the BPP.
Please see: Destroy The Black Panther Party / Supplementary Detailed Staff Reports On Intelligence Activities And Rights Of Americans / Book III / Final Report of the Select Committee To Study Governmental Operations With Respect To Intelligence Activities / United States Senate / 94th Congress, 2d Session Report No. 94-755 April 23, 1976 pp. 185-223 23apr76