Hilliard was convicted on two counts of assault with a deadly weapon for his part in a 1968 encounter with the Oakland Police in retribution for the assassination of Martin Luther King. The April 6, 1968 encounter led to the murder of party member Bobby Hutton, who was shot by police while surrendering with his hands up, and the capture of Eldridge Cleaver, who masterminded the botched operation. In July 1971, Hilliard was sentenced to one to ten years and incarcerated at Vacaville Prison. In January 1973 while serving a sentence of six months to 10 years, he was denied parole.
In his autobiography Revolutionary Suicide, Huey P. Newton claimed the district attorney of Alameda County was attempting to send Hilliard to prison on "trumped up charges". With Huey Newton's second wife, Fredrika Newton, Hilliard later formed the Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation.
- Panther Party.org/speakers.htm "David Hilliard" Check
|url=value (help). Black Panther Party. Retrieved October 2, 2010.
- Newton, Huey (2009) . Revolutionary Suicide. Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-14-310532-9.
- "Black Panther Founder to Teach Courses at U. New Mexico". New York Times. Retrieved October 2, 2010.
- "Black Panther David Hilliard Denied Parole". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California. January 31, 1973. p. B2. Retrieved July 19, 2010.
- Hugh Pearson, The Shadow of the Panther, p. 154
- Black Panthers Speak, Philip Foner, ed. New York: Da Capo, 1970
- Shadow Of The Panther: Huey Newton And The Price Of Black Power In America, Hugh Pearson, Da Capo Press, April 21, 1995; ISBN 0201483416/ISBN 978-0201483413
- David Hilliard and Lewis Cole, This Side of Glory. Boston: Little, Brown, 1993; ISBN 0-316-36421-5