As the world remembers the life, and death, of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., one little-known fact regarding his assassination is that in 1999 the family of Dr. King won a civil lawsuit against Loyd Jowers and others, including governmental agencies, for the wrongful death of King in the case of the King Family versus Jowers and Other Unknown Co-Conspirators.
According to a New York Times report from 1999:
A jury in a civil suit brought by the family of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. decided today that a retired Memphis cafe owner was part of a conspiracy in the 1968 killing of Dr. King.
The jury’s decision means it did not believe that James Earl Ray, who was convicted of the crime, fired the shot that killed Dr. King.
After four weeks of testimony and one hour of deliberation, the jury in the wrongful-death case found that Loyd Jowers as well as ”others, including governmental agencies” had been part of a conspiracy. The jury awarded the King family the damages they had sought: $100, which the family says it will donate to charity.
The family has long questioned Mr. Ray’s conviction and hoped the suit would change the legal and historical record of the assassination.
”This is a vindication for us,” said Dexter King, the youngest son of Dr. King.
He said he hoped history books would be rewritten to reflect this version of the assassination.
The 1999 civil court trial is the only trial ever conducted regarding the assassination of Dr. King, and provides unique insights that had, for decades, been kept from the public. While a civil court trial uses a preponderance of evidence standard, rather than a reasonable doubt standard, there is no mistaking the dark picture painted by the evidence over the course of the trial.
King family friend and attorney William F. Pepper won the civil trial, which found ‘US governmental agencies’ guilty of being part of a conspiracy that resulted in the wrongful death/assassination of Dr. King.