Austin Stoker, ‘Assault On Precinct 13’ & ‘Roots’ Actor, Dies at 92

Austin Stoker
Everett Collection

Austin Stoker, the Trinidadian-American actor best known for his role as Lt. Ethan Bishop in John Carpenter’s 1976 film Assault on Precinct 13 and Virgil in the TV mini-series Roots, has died. He was 92.

Stoker passed away on Friday, October 7, his 92nd birthday, as confirmed by his wife, Robin Stoker. He was said to have died due to renal failure and was surrounded by his loved ones. The late actor is survived by his wife of over 40 years, his daughter Tiffany, his son Origen, and his two grandsons, Marcus and Austin.

Born on October 7, 1930, in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Stoker began acting at a young age, joining the Trinidad-formed groundbreaking theatre group the Whitehall Players. He would later travel to New York City, where he joined the dance troupe Holder Dance Company. One of his first acting roles came in the 1954 Broadway production of Truman Capote’s House of Flowers.

He was later drafted by the U.S. Army and, following his service, was honorably discharged. After returning from the Army, Stoker would continue his acting career, appearing in numerous TV series, such as Mod Squad, Men at Law, Monty Nash, Love Thy Neighbor, McCloud, and Kojak.

In addition to this TV work, Stoker also landed roles in a number of films, including Battle of the Planet of the Apes, Horror High, and Sheba, Baby. Then, in 1976, he starred in his most memorable role in Assault on Precinct 13, where he played Lt. Ethan Bishop, a cop in charge of a decommissioned L.A. police station. This role was notable as one of the few heroic starring roles for a Black actor in a 1970s action film outside of the blaxploitation genre.

Stoker would return to television in 1977 when he appeared in two episodes of the Emmy-winning mini-series Roots. His last on-screen role came in the 2019 horror film 3 from Hell.