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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Kojo Nantambu, May 15, 1978. Interview B-0059. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Steve Mitchell's murder and its effect on the conflict

According to Nantambu, when Steve Mitchell saw the fire at Mike's Grocery, he ran to pull a fire alarm. As he ran, the police shot him three times and then severely beat him rather than taking him to the hospital resulting in his death.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Kojo Nantambu, May 15, 1978. Interview B-0059. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

About 10 o'clock, between 10 and 10:30, June-Bug came out to the house and--it was 10 o'clock a news bulletin came over and said that this Gibbs Steve Corbett had been killed, and I said, "Damn, I just left there." I hadn't been gone over thirty minutes. According to the news, it was either between 9:30 and 10 o'clock or 10 o'clock and 10:30. Anyway, if the the news was correct, according to the report that they got from the police, this happened at 9:30, fifteen minutes after I left. They try to impress now that there was a whole lot of shooting and a whole lot of people there, but I know when I left there, I left seven people there. So it couldn't have been too damn much shooting. It was only to my understanding three rifles there and maybe one pistol.
LARRY THOMAS:
KOJO NANTAMBU:
The brother who was with him--this is what my brother told me when he came--I didn't know who Gibbs Corbett was, but I knew Steve was Steve Mitchell. So my brother came home and said Steve had been killed. I said, "Steve who?" He said Steve Mitchell, and I said, "No, the news said Gibbs Corbett. Who was that?" He said, "No, it was Steve." I said, "Why you going to say that?" He said, "Well, Mutt told me." This was the brother that was behind the church with him. I said, "What happened?" He said, "Well, Steve ...
LARRY THOMAS:
Your brother saw this?
KOJO NANTAMBU:
No, this friend of ours saw it, who was with Steve. Steve was behind the church on post with another brother, and the brother came back and told everybody, "Hey, man, they got Steve." After the fire started--people in the house didn't even know the fire started till that brother came back. What happened was--he said Steve saw that fire and he was going to pull the fire alarm. He gave his gun, said hold my gun till I get back. I don't know whether he got shot on the way or the pigs called him and threw down on him on the way back. The first time we talked about it, I think he said Steve was on his way back from pulling the fire alarm. Anyway the pigs shot him--they gave him three buckshots right up in here. And they say he fired a gun, but the gun didn't go off ...
LARRY THOMAS:
Because he fired it then.
KOJO NANTAMBU:
with a shot-gun. They produced some old shot-gun but the police probably got a whole lot of old guns down there. They could produce anything they wanted. The brother that was with Steve said Steve left his gun with him, but he's been scared to testify to that effect--they might get him. We haven't been able to convince this brother to testify to this day. This is how we know that Steve didn't have a gun.
LARRY THOMAS:
Did he die on the spot?
KOJO NANTAMBU:
No, this is the other thing. The news bulletin said he was shot around 9:30, according to the police report, and the hospital report said he arrived at the hospital around 10 o'clock. I don't know exactly now--it said 10 o'clock or 10:30. Anyway, it was a half hour difference between the time that they said they shot him and the time they say he got to the hospital, and it's only five or ten minutes--five minutes to a policeman--from Gregory Church to the hospital, ten minutes at the most. If they'd have got him there in that ten minutes time or fifteen minutes time, he probably would have lived because they'd have had an extra fifteen minutes for them to work on him. But now the brother who was with him said Steve was alive. The people in that immediate neighborhood was looking out their windows and they saw it, and they said that he was still kicking when the police got him. They say when they got him, they were dragging him down the street and beating on him.
LARRY THOMAS:
Thumping on him?
KOJO NANTAMBU:
Yeah, when they threw him in the car, they said they were beating on him. They said you could see him kicking and wiggling trying to get loose, trying to get away from them. So that's why we claim murder. And naturally the cracker who was allegedly the slayer, Jackie Shaw, was released. He was vindicated from this.
LARRY THOMAS:
Is he still on the force?
KOJO NANTAMBU:
Yeah, he's still on the force. He's in charge of the traffic division and has been for a long time. But the people would never come out and testify that they saw Steve alive, so that we could ...
LARRY THOMAS:
They squashed their case?
KOJO NANTAMBU:
Yeah. without us present. There's no need to go down there unless you've got some people that can verify the that he was killed, murdered. The people who saw him ...
LARRY THOMAS:
How did you feel after that junk?
KOJO NANTAMBU:
That was a real low blow. We knew then it was do or die, that they were serious, that they were out for blood--and that we'd better be out for blood.