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The Confession - My Name is James Santos aka Otis Jackson

Kairi Al-Amin
Atlanta, GA, United States

May 5, 2020 — 

Otis Jackson is a self‐proclaimed leader of the Almighty Vice Lord Nation (AVLN). Founded in the late 1950s, the AVLN is one of the oldest street gangs in Chicago.

According to Jackson, the group under his leadership was focused on rebuilding communities by pushing out drug dealers and violence.

In a never‐before published sworn deposition, Jackson recalls the events of the night of Thursday, March 16, 2000, in vivid detail.

It was a cool night as Jackson remembers. He wore a knee‐high black Islamic robe with black pants, a black kufi — Muslim head covering — underneath a tan hat, and a tan leather jacket. His silver sunglasses with yellow tint sat above his full beard and mustache.

He arrived at Mick’s around 7PM, when he realized his schedule had changed. He was no longer the food expediter in the kitchen; his title was now dishwasher/cook, which meant he would wash dishes and then help close the kitchen at night.

Since his title changed, he wasn’t required to work that Thursday night. It immediately dawned on him that he had a 10‐hour window to do whatever he wanted. As a parolee under house arrest, the opportunity to have truly free time was rare if even existent. Jackson decided to fill his new found freedom like most people fill their free time — he ran a few errands.

His first stop was the West End Mall where he got a bite to eat, did some shopping and then headed toward the West End community mosque, led by Al‐Amin. He knew it was a regular building off of Oak Street, but wasn’t sure which one exactly.

He parked his black Cadillac in an open field and walked down toward a house that turned out to be the mosque. He passed a black Mercedes before he got to the mosque, where he met a man named Lamar “Mustapha” Tanner. They talked for a while during which Jackson explained to Tanner that he was looking for Al‐Amin to talk about how the AVLN could help Al‐Amin’s community.

Tanner told Jackson to check the grocery store, since Al‐Amin could usually be found there. Tanner then gave Jackson his phone number and hurried away to go pick up his wife. Jackson proceeded to the grocery store. He wanted to discuss with Al‐Amin how his AVLN organization could help further clean the streets of drug dealers in the West End community.

By the time Jackson made his way to Al‐Amin’s store, it was already late. He was afraid the store would be closed since he didn’t see anyone else on the street. His fear was affirmed; the store wasn’t open.

Hoping that maybe the owner would be in the back closing up, he knocked on the door a few more times. No answer. As he turned to leave, Jackson saw a patrol car pull up. By the time Jackson walked by the black Mercedes, the patrol car was parked in front of it, nose‐to‐nose. The driver of the patrol car got out and asked Jackson to put his hands up.

Immediately, this scenario flashed through Jackson’s head: Here he was, violating his parole by not being at work, with a 9mm handgun in his waist. Jackson was afraid the cops would think he was breaking into the store. That meant they would probably frisk him and find the gun. The gun would be a direct violation of his parole; he’d be sent back to prison in Nevada.

Jackson ignored the order to put his hands up and instead began to explain that he was not trying to break into the store. He stated that he wasn’t trying to steal the Mercedes either; his car was parked down the street. Both officers were out of the car with guns drawn and demanding Jackson put his hands up. The cops were closing in and there was little space between them. Jackson made a quick decision. He backed up against the Mercedes, pulled out his gun and began to fire.

He fired off two shots. The officers, while retreating, returned fire. Jackson wasn’t hit and bolted toward his car, where in the trunk he had an arsenal of other weapons. As Jackson explains, “the organization I was about to form, the Almighty Vice Lord Nation, we’re anti‐oppression, and we fight, you know, drug dealers and what not, so…we need artillery.”

He quickly opened the trunk — the lock was broken and held together with shoe string — and grabbed a lightweight, semiautomatic carbine Ruger Mini‐14 with an extended clip housing 40 .223 caliber rounds. Jackson then headed back toward the cops; one was moving for cover behind the Mercedes, the other was on the police radio screaming for backup.

Jackson approached the officer he thought was the most aggressive, who was using the Mercedes for cover and resumed firing his rifle. The officer returned fire, hitting Jackson in the upper left arm twice.

Jackson, now angered and fearful for his life, shot back, downing the officer. Jackson stood over him and shot him in the groin up to four times. The fallen officer, Deputy Kinchen, in a last attempt to plead with his killer, described his family, mother, and children to Jackson, hoping for mercy.

But Jackson admits that by this time, “my mind was gone, so I really wasn’t paying attention.” Jackson fired again at the officer on the ground. Dripping his own blood on the concrete where he stood, Jackson then turned his attention to Deputy English who was running toward the open field. Jackson believed English was flagging down another officer; he couldn’t let him get away.

Jackson hit English four times. One shot hit him in the leg; he soon fell, screaming, thereby confirming Jackson’s shot. After English went down, Jackson, in a state of shock, walked down pass the mosque.

Nursing his bleeding wounds, he tried to stop three passing cars on the road; no one dared pull over. He then walked back down the street and knocked on three different doors for assistance. Only one even turned the light on, but no one opened the door for Jackson. He then made his way back to his car and drove to his mother’s home.

As he walked in the door, the phone rang. His mother was asleep, so Jackson hurriedly answered it in the other room. It was a representative from the Sentinel Company that provided the monitoring service for Jackson’s ankle bracelet. The man on the phone asked where Jackson was; he responded that he was at work. The Sentinel representative explained that his unaccounted for absence would have to be marked down as a violation. Jackson agreed and quickly ended the conversation.

Although one bullet exited through the back of his arm, the other was still lodged in his upper left arm. Jackson called a couple of female friends, who were registered nurses. The women, who were informed by Jackson that he was robbed in the middle of the night, arrived at his house and worked for three hours to remove the bullet from his arm. Jackson then called Mustapha Tanner, whom he just met earlier in the evening, and asked him to come by his house.

Tanner arrived before 10am. Jackson explained what had happened the previous night and said he needed to get rid of the guns and the car. Jackson’s car trunk contained enough artillery for a mini-militia: three Ruger Mini‐14 rifles, an M16 assault rifle, a .45 handgun, three 9mm handguns and a couple of shotguns. Once Tanner left, Jackson called his parole officer Sarah Bacon and let her know that he “had been involved in a situation,” but left out the details.

In the following days, Jackson was asked to report to the Sentinel Company. He checked in with the monitoring company and his parole officer, and was then given a ride back home. As they pulled onto his street, Jackson noticed many unmarked police cars. After entering his driveway, multiple police officers emerged. The police searched Jackson’s house and found rounds of Mini‐14, .223, 9mm, and M16 ammunition. Jackson’s bloody clothes and boots from the shootout with the deputies the night before were left untouched in his closet.

On March 28, 2000, Jackson’s parole was revoked and he was sent back to prison to serve the remainder of his sentence in Nevada. Upon his detainment in Florida and later transfer to Nevada, Jackson confessed the crime to anyone who would listen. Jackson claims that when he reached the Clark County Jail in Las Vegas, Nevada, he made numerous phone calls to the F.B.I., after which an agent arrived to discuss the incident with him. Jackson recalls telling his story to “Special Agent Mahoney.”

Special Agent Devon Mahoney recalls documenting the confession, but not much beyond that. Mahoney remembers getting a call from a superior to “talk to someone” in a Las Vegas jail and then to “document it and file it up the chain of command.” The confession was documented and filed on June 29, 2000.


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