He appeared on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List after avoiding trial on charges of inciting riot and of carrying a gun across state lines. His attorneys in the gun violation case were civil rights advocate Murphy Bell of Baton Rouge and the radical William Kunstler. He disappeared for eighteen months then was arrested after a reported shootout with officers. The shootout occurred after what was said to be an attempted robbery of a bar in 1971 in New York.
He spent five years (1971–1976) in the Attica Prison after a robbery conviction. While in prison, Brown converted to Islam and changed his name to Jamil Abdullah al-Amin. After his release, he opened a grocery store in Atlanta, Georgia and became a Muslim spiritual leader and community activist preaching against drugs and gambling in Atlanta's West End neighborhood. He also became leader of the National Ummah.
On March 16, 2000, in Fulton County, Georgia, Sheriff's deputies Ricky Kinchen and Aldranon English went to al-Amin's home to serve an arrest warrant for failing to appear in court on a traffic citation of speeding and impersonating a police officer (he showed the officer his honorary badge that was given to him by the city for cleaning up the "West End"). After stopping in front of al-Amin's home and determining that nobody was there they drove away and were passed by a black Mercedes that was heading towards the home. Kinchen (the more senior deputy) watched the suspect vehicle and turned the car around and drove up to it stopping nose to nose. English approached the Mercedes and told the occupant to show his hands. The occupant did and opened fire with a .223 rifle. English ran but was hit four times. Kinchen was shot with the rifle and a 9mm handgun (three times in the genitals). The following day, Kinchen died of his wounds in a Georgia hospital. English survived his wounds and while still under medication in the hospital identified al-Amin as the shooter from six photos he was shown.
Shortly after the shootout, al-Amin fled to White Hall, Alabama, where he was tracked down by U.S. marshals and arrested by law enforcement officers after a four-day manhunt. Al-Amin was wearing body armor at the time of his arrest, and near his arrest location, officers located a 9mm handgun and .223 rifle. Ballistics testing showed that both weapons were the same guns used to shoot Kinchen and English. Later on, his black Mercedes, covered with bullet holes, was located.
On March 9, 2002, nearly two years after the shooting took place, al-Amin was convicted of thirteen criminal charges, including the murder of deputy Kinchen. Four days later, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He was sent to Georgia State Prison, the state's maximum security facility near Reidsville, Georgia.
Since his conviction, supporters of al-Amin have asserted that another man, Otis Jackson, who confessed to the shooting (but later recanted), is the real shooter. Also the police initially believed the shooter was wounded during the gun battle, but al-Amin had no injuries at the time of his arrest. Supporters assert that the investigation and trial were plagued by irregularities, including the suppression of evidence. Some feel that al-Amin's conviction is politically motivated.
At his trial, prosecutors pointed out al-Amin never provided any alibi for his whereabouts at the time of the shootout, nor any explanation as to why he fled the state afterwards. He also did not explain the bullet holes in his car, nor how the weapons used in the shootout were located near him during his arrest. In 2004, the Georgia Supreme Court unanimously ruled to uphold al-Amin's conviction.
In August 2007, he was transferred from state custody to Federal custody as Georgia officials decided that al-Amin is too high-profile an inmate for the Georgia prison system to handle. He was moved to a Federal transfer facility in Oklahoma pending assignment to a Federal penitentiary. On October 21, 2007, al-Amin was transferred to the ADX Florence supermax prison in Florence, Colorado.