Suspect in 1969 shooting to be extradited from Canada

January 22, 2008 4:10:34 PM PST
A suspect in the 1969 shooting of a Chicago police officer says he will no longer fight extradition. Former Black Panther Joseph Pannell says he is ready to return to Chicago to face charges that he shot former officer Terrance Knox. Pannell was arrested three years ago in Canada.

Pannell said it is time to make a clean break from the past and give up the fight he has been conducting from a cell in Canada.

The shooting involving a white cop just out of the academy and a black defendant occurred at a time when race relations in Chicago were at a flashpoint.

Pannell, the accused gunman, was not arrested once, but twice, and each time he jumped bail. He fled to Canada in the early 1970s where he lived under an assumed name, married and raised a family.

Since he was tracked down and arrested in 2004, Pannell has been fighting extradition from Canada. But now he says that race relations have so improved over four decades, he will yield his extradition fight.

Thirty-nine years ago, at a South Side intersection, a young policeman stopped a teenager three years his junior, to ask him why he wasn't in school. Officer Terrance Knox was then shot three times in the right arm. Pannell, 19 at the time and AWOL from the Navy, was arrested, charged with attempted murder and given bail. Then he disappeared.

"Anyone that has been shot with a handgun is a victim for life," Knox said in July of 2004.

Three-and-a-half years ago, former policeman Knox was pleased that Chicago cold case detectives had located Pannell. He had fled to Toronto where he worked as a research librarian. He took the name Gary Freeman.

Pannell said he fled Chicago because racial prejudice denied him a fair trial. Pannell was encouraged by improved equality, including a Chicago mayor's endorsement of an African American running for president.

"It is time," he says on his Web site. "to make the much-needed clean break with the past."

He says he's decided to abandon his right to stay in Canada and writes, "I will be returning to Chicago and will be incarcerated at the Cook County Jail until such time as we reach a final determination through the judicial process."

Knox said he doesn't trust Pannell and that until he's here physically, "I'm going to take the status quo," meaning he'll believe it when he sees it.

Pannell remains in custody in Toronto. The Cook County state's attorney's office has said it has not received a formal notification of a change in Pannell's extradition fight, and it is possible he could be returned to Chicago within the next 30 days. Pannell's intent, according to his attorney, is to plead not guilty.