The Death Squad
Keith LaMar (Bomani Shakur)
I ran up to the control panel with intentions of releasing this individual from my cell, and not really understanding how to operate the panel, inadvertently opened several of the adjoining cells which were also being used as holding cells. Seeing this, the individual previously operating the panel screamed to me to leave the pod, and I was escorted out to speak with one of the leaders who very briefly explained what was going on. I was then given two options, to leave or to stay and join the rebellion. I chose to leave. I was back on the yard by 3:30 p.m. . . .
Q. How did it come to be that you ended up in L6?A. Well, group of inmates that I were with were talking amongst Muslims with the bullhorn and questions were asked as if we going to L6 and kill all the snitches, can we be let out to the yard . . . .Q. All right. And so what’s the next thing that happened or the next thing that took place?A. Well, authorization was given to the guy with the bullhorn and it was transferred back to the guy that was with us who asked the question . . . to the guy.Q. And what resulted as a result of those verbal exchanges, what took place, where did you go, what took place next?A. Proceeded into L2 block.Q. All right. What did you do in L2?A. This was particularly where guys were masked up, grabbed weapons and different things of that nature.Q. What kind of weapons were grabbed?A. Shovels, bats, weight bars.Q. What did you have?A. Weight bar.
Gordon was one of three Muslims who planned the takeover of L-block. State v. Grinnell, Tr. at 328.Gordon was one of three “security amirs”—that is, security commanders or officers--for the Muslims involved in the April 1993 uprising, with special responsibility for security in L-6. (Gordon could have been convicted for complicity in the kidnapping of every officer held in L-6.) He claimed to be the righthand man of Imam Carlos Sanders. Id. at 327, 330-331, 343.Sanders directed Gordon to make sure that prisoners did not assault other prisoners. Sanders didn’t want anyone harmed. Id. at 357-358, 361, 378,Gordon was inside L-6 at the time of the death squad murders. Id. at 318, 365. He saw and heard the homicides. Id. at 321-324, 367.As Gordon understood it, the L-6 cells in which “snitches” were confined were not to be opened to let other prisoners come in and kill those people. Id. at 372.Gordon did nothing to prevent the killing of supposed snitches in L-6 as the murders were being carried out. Id. at 370, 374.
Prentice Jackson . . . was housed in L-3. Approximately one and one-half hours after the riot began, he was ordered by unidentified inmates to go to L-6 to get food. . . . Shortly after he entered L-6, a group of men, including Gordon, came to the door and Jackson observed [Grinnell] tell the group they could not come in. Jackson testified that [Grinnell] was then threatened by Gordon who ordered [Grinnell] to man the console.
Leroy Elmore, who was . . . not housed in the L-Block, entered L-6 out of curiosity approximately twenty minutes after the riot began. When he looked into L-6, he saw Gordon ordering everybody out of the block and Girdy at the control panel. He also saw Gordon threaten [Grinnell] and tell him to work the control panel. He also observed masked people with weapons go to the top of the range.
Opinion and Order, Farocq v. Russell at 23-24, summarizing testimony at the trial of Timothy Grinnell in the Court of Common Pleas, Tr. at 476-478 (Jackson), 521-523 (Elmore).
A prisoner named Stacey Gordon was assistant in charge of security for the Sunni Muslim community on L side. A prisoner named Timothy Grinnell for a time operated the console in L-6.I heard the imam or prayer leader for the Muslim community, Siddique Abdullah Hasan also known as Carlos Sanders, instruct Mr. Grinnell that certain prisoners were to be locked up in L-6 for their own protection and were not to be harmed.I witnessed Mr. Gordon enter L-6 with a group of prisoners. Mr. Gordon ordered Mr. Grinnell to open the doors of the cells in which various prisoners were confined whom Mr. Gordon described as “snitches.”Mr. Grinnell refused. Mr. Gordon and his associates left L-6. While he was absent, a prisoner named Eric Girdy replaced Mr. Grinnell at the console.Mr. Gordon returned and ordered Mr. Girdy to open cell doors. Mr. Girdy did so. A group that became known as the “death squad” went from cell to cell, beating and killing the prisoners confined there.Affidavit of Edward Julious, Apr. 17, 2008.
What Did the Prosecution Do?