The film focuses on Cochran’s unrelenting pursuit of justice in the Signal Hill police brutality case in 1981, long before he became known worldwide for successfully defending O.J. Simpson of double murder.
In “Signal Hill,” Foxx will play Elmer “Geronimo” Pratt, the former Black Panther party leader and Vietnam vet whom Cochran represented in helping to overturn a murder conviction that sent Pratt to prison for 27 years for a crime he said he didn’t commit. Cochran helped Pratt to settle a false imprisonment suit for $4.5 million in 1992.
In the landmark Signal Hill case, Cochran represented a football player, Cal State Long Beach star Ron Settles, who had been picked up for speeding in Signal Hill, in Los Angeles County. Shortly after his arrest, he was found hanged in his cell. The police called it a suicide, but an autopsy — performed after Cochran persuaded Settles’ family to exhume the body — showed that he had been choked to death.
The family was awarded $760,000 in a civil suit, the police chief resigned, and reforms were mandated.
Foxx is coming off “Baby Driver” and wrapped the Otto Bathurst-directed “Robin Hood” with Taron Egerton.
Below, scenes from a documentary shot while Geronimo was still behind bars for the crime he did not commit. In it, you can hear him tell his story, about growing up in the segregated South, serving two tours in Vietnam, how the FBI framed him, and how he viewed the situation of black people at the time.
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(Photo Credit: We Got You Media / PR Photos)