The truth, as it often is, was more complicated, as was Newton. Disparaged by many as a gangster, Newton eventually earned a Ph.D. in social philosophy at the University of California Santa Cruz. Viewed by his admirers as a leader of the oppressed and a man of the people, Newton lived for a time in a penthouse high above Oakland and drove a Mercedes-Benz.
After living for a time in Cuba to escape prosecution for murder, Newton returned to the United States. In the last years of Newton's life, he struggled with cocaine addiction and various criminal charges. At the time of his death, Newton had recently been released from San Quentin.
Shortly before dawn on August 22, 1989, Newton was shot several times in Oakland's Lower Bottoms neighborhood. Tyrone Robinson was convicted of his murder, which was reportedly the result of a drug dispute.