Director Shaka King’s latest film “Judas and the Black Messiah,” tells the story of the 1969 murder of Illinois Black Panther Party Chairman Fred Hampton Jr. (Daniel Kaluuya). The film’s central point is the relationship that develops when FBI informant William “Bill” O’Neal (LaKeith Stanfield) infiltrated the Panthers. He provided information to the FBI that led to Hampton’s murder. He was 21.
O’Neal hardly spoke of his undercover years but in a 1984 interview with the Tribuneone of his last public interviews, he mentioned that he “thrived” on his work with law enforcement though in the end, he realized he had been ”just a pawn in a very big game.”
His undercover role did leave him “restless, but without remorse,” he said. ”If you ask me if the gains outweigh the loses, I think so.”
”I think if I look back at myself . . . I say, if I had never met Mitchell I would probably be in jail or dead.
The day before his death, O’Neal went to his uncle’s residence in Maywood. According to Heard, O’Neal ”kept going to the washroom,” he recalled. ”He stayed in there for a long time. The last time he came out he tried to go out the window. I pulled him back, but he broke loose and ran toward the expressway.”
“I just had my house shoes and pants on,” Heard said. “I couldn’t run after him like that. I couldn’t have caught him anyway. There was a woman standing in front of the house and she said, ‘Lord, it sounds like somebody got hit on the expressway!’” Police said, “he ran down the embankment near 5th Avenue, crossed the eastbound lanes, and was struck by a car in the westbound lanes,” where he died.