Suspect in '69 cop shooting may return

November 4, 2006

A former Black Panther charged in the 1969 shooting of a Chicago Police officer has been ordered back to the United States by Canada's justice minister to face trial in the 37-year-old case.
Joseph Coleman Pannell, 56, has been jailed since his 2004 arrest in a suburb of Toronto, where he had been living under an assumed name for more than 20 years. As Douglas Gary Freeman, he had worked as a researcher at the Toronto Reference Library, married and raised four children.

One year ago, a judge in Toronto ordered Pannell returned to Chicago to face trial. His lawyers appealed to Canada's justice minister, saying Pannell feared for his life and would not get a fair trial in the United States. He faces a charge of attempted murder and three charges of aggravated battery in the shooting of former Officer Terrence Knox after being stopped for questioning outside a store at 77th and Drexel. At that time, Pannell was an Army deserter. He fled Chicago while free on bond in 1973.

Justice Minister Vic Toews denied Pannell's request in a written ruling Thursday. Pannell's attorneys say they will mount one last appeal of Toews' decision, which will take at least six months.

Knox was partially paralyzed from three bullet wounds. He credits another officer with saving his life by using his finger to plug a torn artery in his left arm.

Pannell was tracked down by a fingerprint. In 1983, he was working at Concordia University in Montreal when he was stopped at the Canadian border for trying to sneak a camera into the country. He paid a $300 fine. His prints remained on file.

Contributing: Mississauga News reporter Louie Rosella