35 Years Later, Cop Murder May Be Solved
Jan. 19 - KGO (KGO) -- Police may be closing in on a cop killer 35 years after the murder of a San Francisco officer. The state says arrests are imminent in the unsolved cold case.
August 29th, 1971 -- two people burst into Ingleside police station firing a shotgun through a speaker's hole in the bullet-proof partition. Sgt. John Young was killed instantly. The killers were never caught.
Former Police Chief Tony Ribera was then a sergeant and Young's friend.
Tony Ribera, Former Police Chief: "This was definitely something that was premeditated, well planned and it was an execution of a very, very decent, decnt man."
In late 1999, three decades later, Police Chief Fred Lau re-opened the investigation of the cold case. Two inspectors working full-time went through the old evidence, including DNA samples which sat for 28 years in the police property room.
Police had long suspected that the murder had been carried out by an extremist left-wing group. By 2001, investigators had narrowed down potential suspects.
Investigators believed certain members of the Black Panthers and Black Liberation Army were responsible.
In the fall of 2002, then Police Chief Alex Fagan believed the case needed federal help. He handed the investigation over to U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan who established a task force.
Prosecutors convened a grand jury which subpoenaed former members of the radical groups, including nine targets living in four states. All were now in their 60's and 70's.
In late 2004, the task force decided the case should be tried in state rather than federal court. Early last year, a new grand jury was impaneled by the state attorney general. Prosecutors called the targets of the probe again, hoping they would testify. Sources say most if not all refused and were jailed for contempt of court.
Attorney Stu Hanlon represents one of the potential targets.
Stu Hanlon, Defense Attorney: "That's why it's a fishing expedition. They tried to force people to become snitches by putting these old people in jail, thinking that they'd give up and lie. And none of them did."
They were released when the grand jury's term ended, but the investigation continued. Now it appears the state is winding up its probe.
According to a court document from the state attorney general's office filed in Oklahoma, a state where one of the nine targets lives, arrests are likely within the next two months.
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