The developing film project about the infamous Signal Hill case is moving closer to reality, with the news that director Justin Chadwick is in talks to take the helm. The movie will see Marvel star Anthony Mackie play the role of lawyer Johnnie Cochran – who later made a name for himself representing clients such as O.J Simpson and Michael Jackson, but began his career as an advocate for black victims of police brutality.
The Signal Hill case arose in 1981, when Cal State Long Beach football star Ron Settles was arrested for speeding in Los Angeles County, and was later found hanging in his jail cell. While the LA police insisted that the cause of Settles’ death was suicide, the family vehemently disagreed, until Johnnie Cochran arranged for the body of the late 21 year-old to be exhumed. Further examination indicated that Settles had been choked to death, and his family was awarded $760,000 in a civil suit. As a direct result of the case, the Police Chief resigned, and many reforms were instituted by the LAPD.
Justin Chadwick is a Primetime Emmy nominee, who made his feature film directorial debut in 2009 with The Other Boleyn Girl. He later went on to direct Mandela: The Long Walk To Freedom. The Signal Hill movie will be his fourth time directing a project for theatrical release, and this will likely be the filmmaker’s highest profile project to date, as it features Anthony Mackie in the lead role.
Mackie is currently the only performer cast in the Signal Hill movie, but with a script by David McMillan (Judging Amy) in place, and an experienced eye now at the helm, we can expect further announcements to come thick and fast – with more big names attracted to the very topical subject matter.