Former Black Panther, Elmer “Geronimo” Pratt, died Thursday (June 2) in Tanzania at 63 years old.
While his former lawyer confirmed the news with CNN, he said he did not know the exact cause of death.
Pratt — who was wrongly imprisoned for 27 years on a murder conviction, which lawyer Stuart Hanlon helped overturn — died in a small village in Tanzania where he lived with his wife and child.
He was a former high ranking member of the Black Panther Party, and was targeted by the FBI program COINTELPRO, which aimed to “neutralize Pratt as an effective BPP functionary,” according to Wikipedia.
Pratt was tried and convicted of the kidnap and murder of Caroline Olsen in 1968 on a Santa Monica tennis court, and spent 27 years in prison, eight of which were in solitary confinement. He was finally freed in 1997 when his conviction was overturned after a judge ruled that prosecutors had concealed evidence.
The victim’s husband, wounded during the robbery attempt, originally identified another man as the killer. But the jury was not informed of that, the judge said.
Pratt worked as a human rights activist up until the time of his death. Pratt was also the godfather of the late rapper Tupac Shakur, whom mentioned Pratt in some of his rap lyrics.