Warren Kimbro, a former Black Panther who climbed into the national spotlight after killing another member of the party, died Tuesday in New Haven, Conn. He was 74.
In 1969, Kimbro shot fellow Panther Alex Rackley, believing he was a police informant. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and spent four years in prison for the crime. He then went from the penitentiary to the university, earning an education degree from Harvard and taking on the role of counselor to other ex-convicts.
"I think he was proof people could turn their lives around," Paul Bass, a journalist who wrote a book on the trial, told the Associated Press.
Although Kimbro admitted shooting Rackley, he turned state’s evidence against Panther leader Bobby Seale, whom he said was also involved in kidnapping, torturing and murdering the victim. The charges kicked off a major uprising in New Haven in 1970; Seale’s trial ended in a hung jury and the prosecution dropped the charges.
"I think Warren Kimbro was an outstanding brother, a person who in the history of that trial got caught up in a bad situation," Seale told AP on Wednesday. "He was a socially conscious person. I liked him."