The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association of the City of New York, local politicians, and the family of slain New York City Police Department Officer Joseph Piagentini have all expressed outrage over the news that cop-killer Anthony Bottom is up for parole in June, 2018. Mr. Bottom, Herman Bell, and Albert Washington ambushed and murdered Officers Waverly Jones, 33, and Joseph Piagentini, 28, in 1971, and all three men were found guilty of first degree murder.
Bottom, who now goes by the name of Jalil Abdul Muntaqim, was convicted on two counts of murder in the first degree in the deaths of the two police officers, and he was sentenced to 25-years to life. Bell and Washington were also convicted of the killings, and they both received the same sentence.
The three killers were members of the Black Liberation Army, which was a violent offshoot of the Black Panther Party. The trio gunned down Officers Jones and Piagentini on May 12, 1971, outside the Colonial Park Housing Project in Harlem, New York. Responding to a fake report of a domestic dispute, the two officers walked into an ambush. Waverly Jones was shot four times in the head and died instantly, and Joseph Piagentini was shot 13 times as he begged for help. Officer Piagentini died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.
Albert Washington died in prison in 2000. Herman Bell was granted parole on March 14, 2018, and he finally left prison a free man on April 27, 2018. Bell’s release caused tension between the families of Officer Jones and Officer Piagentini after Waverly Jones, Jr., the slain officer’s son, supported the parole of Herman Bell.
Officer Piagentini’s widow, Diane Piagentini, was against the release of Mr. Bell, and in an op-ed for the New York Post, Mrs. Piagentini expressed her sense of betrayal.
“Letting a cop-killer out of prison is a betrayal to police officers who are putting their lives on the line now. It is a betrayal to the citizens of the United States to let killers out among us to kill again.
“Herman Bell hasn’t changed. None of what he said or did back in the ’70s has left him.
“He is an assassin.”
Anthony Bottom is scheduled for another parole hearing in June, 2018, and the widow of Officer Joseph Piagentini is determined to prevent him from ever leaving prison as a free man.
Diane Piagentini has the backing of several prominent local leaders, including Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick J. Lynch, Congressman Peter T. King, Senator Patrick M. Gallivan, Senator Fred Akshar, Senator Marty Golden, and Assemblyman Kieran Lalor.
Assemblyman Kieran Lalor sponsored a petition drive to keep Anthony Bottom in prison. The petition pulls no punches in demanding that Mr. Bottom remain behind bars for the rest of his life.
“No one convicted of killing a police officer should ever get out of prison, especially this one. Bottom ambushed, tortured and assassinated two NYPD officers. Frankly, life behind bars is too good for this monster.”
Speaking on the behalf of the many thousands of brave men and women in the New York City Police Department, Patrick J. Lynch railed against the idea of freedom for a cop-killer.
“Today, in this progressive society, it is accepted that the appropriate sentence for anyone who intentionally murders a NYC police officer is life without parole. Why is it that the same accountability and penalty doesn’t apply to murders from another era? The cold-blooded assassination was planned and carried out by three men who, if they committed the same crime today, would never see the light of day for their actions. Society’s sentence for today’s cop-killers should be applied by all future parole panels. If you killed a police officer, you don’t get out of prison.”
A far back as 2002, New York City’s leaders have been opposed to parole for Anthony Bottom when former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg denounced Bottom’s crimes in the New York Times.
“Anthony Bottom’s crime is unforgivable, and its consequences will remain forever with the families of the police officers, as well as the men and women of the New York City Police Department.
”Because he so callously stole these officers’ lives, Bottom should serve the maximum sentence without parole.”
While Anthony Bottom awaits his next opportunity for parole in June, voices will continue to be raised in support of and opposition to his release from prison. While people will passionately disagree on Mr. Bottoms future, a debate on such matters is part of the democratic process, and a healthy public discourse is always desirable in a free society.