Color Lines: From Phillip to Floyd - An Upward Media Partners Podcast

Teaneck, NJ 1992: The Trial, Drama & Verdict Following the Police Shooting of Phillip Pannell

June 18, 2021

In 1990, the town of Teaneck, New Jersey - a community renowned as a model of national unity and peace - became embroiled in a confrontation over race, dignity, and fairness after a white police officer shot and killed a Black teenager.

Riots broke out. The town engaged in an examination over its racial policies, from the police department to the school system. Were the efforts of Teaneck, New Jersey dating back to the 1950s to build racial harmony real? Why didn’t those efforts prevent another tragedy of police killing an African-American under questionable circumstances?

Featuring voiceover by the Emmy-winning Keith David, this limited series explores the American tragedy of race, police shootings, and the search for justice. The series features firsthand accounts, insights, and perspectives from the most prominent voices in civil rights and police reform -- from U.S. Senator Cory Booker to Congresswoman Karen Bass to the Rev. Al Sharpton, civil rights attorney DeWitt Lacy, activist Nupol Kiazolu and others.

In this episode, COLOR LINES author and local reporter Mike Kelly explores the implications of the shooting, how the case played out in court, and similarities that persist in court cases over thirty years later. Reverend Al Sharpton also joins to give insight on strengthening the laws for police accountability and reform. 

In honor of the podcast episode’s focus, listeners are encouraged to support NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.  Click here to learn more:

Visit the podcast website to listen to all episodes:  

Time Stamps 

00:00 Introduction

02:28 Mike Kelly describes how Phillip Pannell was shot

06:35 The mindset of a police officer before shooting 

09:39 Reverend Al Sharpton discusses the need to strengthen police accountability laws

13:04 Similarities between court cases over 30 years later 

19:04 The impact of 1990s media coverage in Teaneck 

22:09 How defense was presented in the Pannell case 

22:51 Conclusion

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