In 1971, an uprising of inmates demanding better conditions at the Attica Correctional Facility in New York gave way to an attack on the facility by state police and guards, which left 29 inmates and 10 hostages dead.
Now, nearly 45 years later, historian Heather Ann Thompson, whose book on the uprising “Blood in the Water” comes out later this month, has unearthed new details about the riot, which have the potential to inspire civil or criminal charges against some of the shooters, the Associated Press reports.
Thompson’s most consequential finding are the names of state troopers whom investigators believe fatally shot hostages and inmates.
Thompson also found evidence, some of which had previously been suppressed, to bolster the claim that Governor Nelson Rockefeller, who ordered the retaking of the prison, was aware this action would likely end in indiscriminate slaughter.
“They knew they were going to kill hostages,” Thompson told the AP.
Thompson said that while it’s unlikely that a criminal ruling would be brought against the shooters (14 troopers and six correction officers, according to a previous investigation) so many decades later, she felt obliged to keep the names in and suggested to the AP that a civil rights case might still be brought against some of them.
“This is hugely controversial even today,” Thompson told the AP, “There’s no statute of limitations on murder. And there’s no statute of limitations on the possibility of filing civil rights cases.”