By WILLIAM MAYER
February 7, 2012 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - On November 5, 1968 Ronald Stanley Bridgeforth, attempted to make a credit card purchase at the now defunct retailer, White Front, located in South San Francisco [San Mateo County].
Local law enforcement was alerted when it became apparent that the card had been stolen.
Responding to the call, officers were confronted with a hand gun wielding Bridgeforth who "escorted" them and a store employee to the front curb where a getaway car sat, idling. In the car were Ray Boudreaux and Henry Jones.
As Bridgeforth entered the vehicle another officer, providing backup, pulled his squad car in front of Bridgeforth's, blocking it. A gunfight ensued during which Bridgeforth fired at the officers. The escape attempt quickly ended in a car crash whereupon Bridgeforth and his two cohorts were taken into custody. Bridgeforth sustained a gunshot wound to the foot.1
The following year Bridgeforth pleaded guilty to the charge of assault with a deadly weapon, but jumped bail before sentencing.
Bridgeforth covered his tracks well, he simply disappeared.
Last week Bridgeforth, attorney at hand, surfaced in a San Mateo court room after 40 years on the run, vowing to plead guilty to the now ancient charges and stating, "I guess I've come back to face the consequences of my actions...in the end, it's always about family..." [see, Fugitive In '68 South San Francisco Police Shooting Surrenders, http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2011/11/10/fugitive-in-68-south-san-francisco-police-shooting-surrenders/].
San Mateo Chief Deputy DA Karen Guidoti has stated that she will seek a 5 year sentence in the matter.
As is often the case is such matters, the back story is far more intriguing than the extant case appears.
During the late sixties and early seventies several revolutionary domestic terrorist organizations [specifically the Weather Underground and the Black Liberation Army, BLA] declared war on the U.S. government. During this lengthy battle, numerous bombings and shootings were committed by both groups, including an attack mounted against San Francisco's Ingleside Police Station, where Sgt. John Young was cold-bloodedly shot-gunned to death by members of the BLA [see, http://www.odmp.org/officer/14631-sergeant-john-victor-young].
Previous to the Ingleside attack, on February 16, 1970 San Francisco's Park Police Station was bombed [presumably by the Weather Underground] resulting in the death of Sgt. Brian McDonnell. 9 other officers were injured in the blast, including Robert Fogarty who sustained massive shrapnel injuries leaving him partially blind.
The BLA is believed responsible for the murder of at least 10 police officers nation wide.
Bridgeforth, the aforementioned Boudreax and Jones along with others were eventually charged in connection with the Young murder. Bridgeforth was suspected as being the getaway driver.
"...he was one of eight men charged in 2007 with murdering police Sgt. John Young at Ingleside Station on Aug. 29, 1971. Young was killed when at least three men burst in, with one firing a shotgun through an opening in a bulletproof glass window. The men, along with a ninth alleged Black Liberation Army veteran, were also charged with conspiring to kill officers over the course of several years..." [see, Fugitive to surrender in decades-old case, http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/11/08/BA8D1LS4E7.DTL#ixzz1le4MC7RF]
In 2007 the suspects in the Young murder were busted in New York, Florida and California. Since the offense was committed in California, it retained jurisdiction whereupon then AG, Jerry Brown [yes THAT Jerry Brown] took the case over [after the San Francisco DA, Kamala Harris, currently CA State AG, failed to even review the case]2 and proceeded to monumentally bungle it. Eventually two of the defendants [serving life sentences in New York for the murder of two police officers during the BLA's reign of terror] pleaded guilty to lesser charges, an ephemeral victory at best.
A circus surrounded this comic book prosecution, with members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, other officials and the city's labor council engaged in a successful campaign of deifying what became known as the San Francisco 8.
Such is unfortunately the state of justice in California. It has become increasingly politicized to the degree where this type of charged prosecution now results in Soviet era "revolutionary justice" wherein the criminal often becomes the hero.
According to press reports the CA State AG's office [now headed by Kamala Harris, the controversial former San Francisco DA who refused to seek the death penalty even in cop-killer cases] has dropped the Ingleside murder charge against Bridgeforth.
"We have advised his (Bridgeforth's) attorney that we will not proceed on the charges," state Chief Assistant Attorney General Dane Gillette said in a statement." [source, http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/11/10/BAEP1LT8JK.DTL#ixzz1ljBdh61g]
Contacted for comment regarding confirmation and an official statement on the matter, the CA State AG's office informed PipeLineNews.org that none was available, the AG's spokesman stated that, "...there was no written statement...we decided not to appeal the state trial court decision..."
The spokesman was unable to provide any reference to which state trial court decision the AG was referring; pressed for more details we were told we could make an official public document request relating to the matter - an obvious dodge of responsibility in this politicized case.
Bringing the matter full-circle and considering that the most serious charge - the murder of a police officer - was simply dropped, Bridgeforth faces - worst case scenario, a maximum sentence of 5 years.
The question remains, has justice been served in this matter?
The answer of course is an emphatic no, apparently Mr. Bridgeforth will never be called upon to face charges that he was involved in the shotgun murder of Sgt. John Young.
So far, Bridgeforth has entirely avoided the consequences of his previous criminal actions, having established a new life under an assumed name - Cole Jordan. He also has a wife and two children. While on the lam, Bridgeforth obtained a Masters Degree and then worked as a counselor at Washtenaw Community College in Michigan [source, Cole Jordan - I've Come Back To Face The Consequences Of My Actions, http://www.washtenawvoice.com/2011/11/cole-jordan-ive-come-back-to-face-the-consequences-of-my-actions/].
Bridgeforth has paid nothing and apparently is counting on the "exemplary," life he has lived since he jumped bail to avoid confronting his past.
It is indeed a stark contrast seeing the nattily dressed and scholarly appearing defendant as compared to the historical Bridgeforth, an animal. In the matter of Sgt. Young's death, Bridgeforth's guilt or innocence in the plot will never be known, leaving Young's remaining family members bitter over the obvious miscarriage of justice and the public denied any real explanation of the machinations which brought about the decision not to prosecute.
1. The FBI's Most Wanted poster described Bridgeforth's record as follows:
"Ronald Stanley Bridgeforth is wanted for his alleged involvement in attacks on law enforcement officials in California, including the August 29, 1971, attack on San Francisco's Ingleside Police Station in which a Police Sergeant was shot and killed. Law enforcement investigation determined that this act of violence was committed by members of an extremist group known as the Black Liberation Army (BLA). The BLA had undertaken a series of attacks on police targets consisting of shootings, bombings, and attempted bombings beginning in the late 1960s and continuing through the 1970s. These attacks resulted in the deaths of several police officers around the nation. Bridgeforth was alleged to be a member of the BLA and was detained on November 5, 1968, in South San Francisco after attempting to purchase merchandise with a stolen credit card. During questioning, Bridgeforth pulled out a revolver and fled the area. A pursuit ensued, followed by a gun battle in which Bridgeforth was wounded. He was taken into custody and charged with attempt to kill a public official and assault on a police officer with a deadly weapon. He pled guilty to these charges and was ordered to appear in court for sentencing on April 11, 1969. Bridgeforth failed to appear for sentencing and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest. A federal arrest warrant was issued in the United States District Court, Northern District of California, San Francisco, California, on June 18, 2004, charging Bridgeforth with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. Additionally, on January 18, 2007, California state arrest warrants were issued for Bridgeforth charging him with murder and conspiracy to murder police officers based on the multiple attacks/murders and bank robberies committed by the BLA, and in connection with the 1971 attack on the Ingleside Police Station allegedly committed by Bridgeforth and other members of the BLA. [source, http://www.fugitivesfromjustice.com/public/publicFugitiveSearch.aspx?state=CALIFORNIA&fid=572]
2. Kamala Harris served as San Francisco's DA from 2004 until 2011, when she was elected as CA State AG. Source for allegation that Harris failed to review the SF 8 case [see, http://sfbayview.com/2009/supervisors%e2%80%99-resolution-urges-ag-jerry-brown-to-drop-charges-against-sf-8/]
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