02/22/2008

Ill. man may get 30 days for shooting cop

By Frank Main and Stefano Esposito
The Chicago Sun-Times

COOK COUNTY, Ill. — Former Chicago Police Officer Terrence Knox once called the man accused of shooting him four decades ago a "terrorist" -- but now he supports a deal for Joseph Pannell to serve 30 days in jail and two years' probation, sources say.

Knox endorsed the proposed plea agreement because of a unique twist: Pannell would contribute $250,000 to the Hundred Club of Cook County, which provides for surviving spouses of cops, firefighters and paramedics who died in the line of duty. Pannell's supporters would help with the tab, sources said.

Pannell, 58, is expected to appear in Cook County Criminal Court today to enter a guilty plea to a charge of aggravated battery.

"Terry Knox relayed to us the reasons he felt this was appropriate," said Mark Donahue, president of the Fraternal Order of Police.

"He's been living with this for almost 40 years," Donahue said. "He feels this is the way for his victimization to be vindicated by helping other injured police officers. We support his decision."

On Feb. 7, Pannell returned to Chicago from his adopted home in Canada to face justice in the shooting of Knox, who survived three bullet wounds in 1969. Pannell fled to Canada in the early 1970s to avoid prosecution. While in Canada, Pannell spent decades working as a research librarian.

Knox and prosecutors declined comment Thursday. Pannell's lawyer, Neil Cohen, also would not comment, except to say, "I don't want to try my case in the press. I will try my case in the courtroom, where it belongs."

Last month, Cohen said his client decided to end his years on the lam because he was inspired by presidential candidate Barack Obama's "message of reconciliation."

Dozens of people in Canada and the United States have written letters of support for Pannell, Cohen said.

Knox, 60, was shot during a "routine street interview" on June 7, 1969, court papers say. He nearly lost his right arm.

At the time, Pannell, a Navy deserter, told investigators he was a Black Panthers member, police said. But in court earlier this month, Cohen said that was not true.

Pannell, a father of four and an accomplished poet, worked as a library research assistant near Toronto, living under the alias of Douglas Gary Freeman, Cohen has said.

Pannell was arrested in Canada in 2004 after the Chicago Police cold-case squad, with help from the FBI and Royal Canadian Mounted Police, tracked Pannell through fingerprints. He had been a fugitive since 1974, when he skipped bail.

Copyright 2008 Chicago Sun-Times

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