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Johnnie Cochran kicks it


“If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”

Yep, the one that got away. Too bad Johnnie didn’t live long enough to see O.J. catch “the real killer.” Right.

Johnnie L. Cochran Jr., died today of a brain tumor, at 67. Rather than spending time on the above travesty of justice (there’s plenty of that to be found on the Web), there are other cases he handled that are worthy of praise. (MSNBC):

He also represented former Black Panther Elmer “Geronimo” Pratt, who spent 27 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit. When Cochran helped Pratt win his freedom in 1997, he called the moment “the happiest day of my life practicing law.”

He won a $760,000 award in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of Ron Settles, a black college football star who died in police custody in 1981. Cochran challenged police claims that Settles hanged himself in jail after a speeding arrest. The player’s body was exhumed, an autopsy performed and it revealed Settles had been choked.

His clients also included Haitian immigrant Abner Louima, who was tortured by New York police, and Tyisha Miller, a 19-year-old black woman shot to death by Riverside police who said she reached for a gun on her lap when they broke her car window in an effort to disarm her.

The Louima case, which occurred in 1997, was a particularly brutal affair, it reinforced the opinion in many of the NY minority community that a segment of the NYPD took pleasure in brutalizing people of color when taken into custody.

Abner Louima was arrested outside a nightclub in 1997, was cuffed and taken Brooklyn’s 70th Precinct. It was there that Officer Justin Volpe sodomized Louima with a broken broomstick; other officers continued “shoving a wooden stick into his rectum and mouth while his hands were handcuffed behind his back.” Louima suffered a torn bladder and intestine and required several surgeries. Officer Justin Volpe pleaded guilty and is serving 30 years. Another officer, Charles Schwarz, guilty of pinning Louima down during the brutality, and four other officers were convicted of lying to authorities.

Abner Louima received $8.75 million settlement from the city due to Cochran’s efforts. (CNN):

“I hope that in the future that it puts police brutality to rest and there will be no more victims,” said Abner Louima. The agreement was the largest police brutality settlement in New York City history. Louima attorney Johnnie Cochran said his client’s lawsuit was not about money.

It was about trying to bring about some change. It was about the future. It was about a society in which Abner Louima feels his children will be safe, safer then he was.” Cochran said. “I hope that will be the legacy.”

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