Luther Jackson

Background

Luther Jackson, a 27 year old Korean War veteran, was shot to death by Philadelphia police officer Lawrence Rainey, later accused of the murder of Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman. Jackson, formerly a native of Mississippi, had been living in Chicago and Flint. According to a friend, Hattie Thompson who was with him, Jackson and she were sitting in a car when Officer Rainey approached. Rainey pulled Jackson out of the car and shot him twice. Jackson died in a ditch. Francis Culbertson witnessed the murder. Culbertson demanded to know why the sheriff allowed Rainey to kill Jackson. Culbertson fled town after making these inquiries. Hattie Thompson was arrested and fined $25 for disorderly conduct.

Legal Status

A coroner’s jury was convened. It rendered a verdict of “justifiable homicide.” The Justice Department declined to get involved, although Medgar Evers sought an investigation. The Justice Department concluded that Rainey had not violated any federal statute and therefore there was “no basis for action by this department.”