The founder of the Coalition Against Police Abuse and former Black Panther died Sunday at home in Pasadena. A longtime activist and police critic in Los Angeles and Pasadena, Zinzun had recently joined the chef's program at the California School of Culinary Arts. Spying on Zinzun's group by the LAPD led to a $1.9 million judgment and disbanding of the Public Disorder and Intelligence unit. From the Star-News:
On June 22, 1986, Zinzun lost partial sight in one eye after a melee with Pasadena police at the Community Arms housing project. Zinzun filed a federal lawsuit against the department and was awarded $1.2 million in an out-of-court settlement. As part of the settlement, Zinzun was to receive $1,750 a month for the rest of his life.
In 1989, Zinzun was again running for a seat on the Pasadena Board of Directors when LAPD Assistant Chief Robert Vernon used a department computer to gather information about Zinzun. Vernon, a Pasadena resident at the time, gave the information to his neighbor, John Crowley, a Board of Directors member. The information was leaked to the Los Angeles Times, which published a story implying there were files on Zinzun in the LAPD's Anti-Terrorist Division.
Zinzun lost the election, which took place one day after the story ran. Zinzun filed a lawsuit against the LAPD, claiming defamation and violation of his right to participate in an election.
It was the start of a five-year legal battle. In 1991, a jury awarded Zinzun $3.8 million, but a judge threw out the verdict, saying the evidence didn't support Zinzun, who appealed the ruling. The Los Angeles City Council rejected a $450,000 settlement before agreeing to pay Zinzun $512,000 in 1994.
The story also talks about Zinzun's role in the protests that erupted into the 1992 riots after the acquittal of the LAPD officers who beat Rodney King.