Bennie Thompson

Location(s): Ninety-Six, South Carolina

Decade: 1930s

On October 8, 1933, Benny Thompson was taken from jail by four white men whom he had a quarrel with at a café. He had been arrested because the men had accused him of pulling a knife (sometimes reported as a gun) on them. The men then asked the police chief to let them have Thompson, and he told them that if they waited until dark they would find the jail door open. This was all uncovered through one of the defendants’ initial confession in which he was boasting about his involvement, and implicated the other three defendants and the police chief. Bennie was found the next morning on the side of the road, severely beat up and bruised, and the physician who testified said he died as a direct result of a brain concussion. Thompson is said to have been about 40 years of age. His family consists of his wife and three children. The Grand Jury charged the four white men and the police chief, but they were all eventually acquitted. Ada Thompson, his wife, brought a civil suit which was eventually dismissed several years later because the plaintiffs’ attorneys never showed up.

The collection includes: case summary; CRRJ student essay “Bennie Thompson: The Voluntary Confession that Resulted in an Acquittal”

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