Movie biopic of star U.S. lawyer Johnnie Cochran in the works

Johnnie Cochran, who died in 2005 from a brain tumour, is best known for representing a whole host of stars over the course of his career, including O.J.

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Simpson, Michael Jackson, Tupac Shakur, Snoop Dogg and Sean Combs. But the lawyer also has a place in America's collective memory for defending victims of police brutality.

This aspect of his career will be the focus of the upcoming biopic, which has no working title for the moment. More specifically, the movie will concentrate the case of Ron Settles, a student at California State University, Long Beach and football player. After being arrested for speeding, the young Afro-American was reportedly uncooperative with police officers and was sent to Signal Hill jail. A few hours later, he was found hanging in his jail cell. The police said the death was a suicide.

Representing Ron Settles' family, Johnnie Cochran argued that the victim had been beaten and strangled while in custody. But while the lawyer managed to win just under $1 million for the family in a legal settlement, no police officer was ever prosecuted for Settles' death.

The Ron Settles case still resonates in America today, as the debate surrounding police brutality towards the Afro-American community continues. The movie, which has no director or actors signed up yet, joins other upcoming features in framing the issue through history.

Kathryn Bigelow is making a film about the 1967 Detroit riots and Ice Cube is set to star in "April 29, 1992," based on the Los Angeles riots of the early 1990s. The actor and rapper also starred in the 1994 movie "The Glass Shield," inspired by the Ron Settles affair.

More than ten years after his death, Johnnie Cochran recently cropped up as a key character in "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story," currently airing on FX. In this new reconstruction of the O.J. Simpson trial, the lawyer is played by actor Courtney B. Vance.


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