A few days ago, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections announced that beginning next week, convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal will be given medications to treat his hepatitis C.
NBC 10 recently reported on how much the taxpayers of the Commonwealth will be forced to pay to treat a man who once resided on Pennsylvania’s death row.
“The Department of Corrections told a federal judge Friday that Abu-Jamal will be treated with an antiviral medication that can cost $50,000 to $60,000 per patient. Treatment will start next week.
“Abu-Jamal filed suit in 2015 over his medical care. In January, Judge Robert Mariani ruled that Abu-Jamal had a right to the hepatitis C drugs.”
It has been 35 years since Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner was killed. While the voice of Officer Faulkner has been silent for a quarter of a century, his killer is very much alive and his voice is heard quite often.
Former Black Panther, Mumia Abu-Jamal (born Wesley Cook) gives numerous interviews, delivers college commencement speeches, and even has a street named in in his honor. Despite his conviction and subsequent death sentence, Abu-Jamal continues to thumb his nose at the justice system while enjoying the adulation of foreign leaders as well as Hollywood celebrities. On December 9, 1981, Officer Daniel Faulkner made a routine traffic stop of the car driven by William Cook (Abu-Jamal’s brother). According to witnesses, Cook exited the vehicle and began to struggle with Officer Faulkner. Abu-Jamal happened to be across the street, witnessing the struggle, he ran over and shot Faulkner in the back. Faulkner returned fire and hit Abu-Jamal in the chest. However, Abu-Jamal then stood over the officer and emptied his revolver, shooting him once in the face.
Fellow officers arrived at the scene and saw Officer Faulkner lying in the street in a pool of blood, while Abu-Jamal sat gasping for air on the curb. Officer Daniel Faulkner was taken to a nearby hospital and pronounced dead later that night. Abu-Jamal was taken into custody and charged with Faulkner’s murder.
In 1982, Abu-Jamal was convicted of murder and sentenced to death.
Despite the overwhelming facts, Abu-Jamal has maintained his innocence, and his lawyers have brought forth dozens of appeals. In 2001, they brought the case to Federal District Court Judge William Yohn, who actually overturned the death sentence. On March 17, 2006, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania filed an appeal with the U.S. Third Circuit to reinstate the execution of Abu-Jamal. Then-Governor Ed Rendell promised to sign the death warrant.
However, in December of 2011, Philadelphia’s district attorney, Seth Williams, dropped a request for a new sentencing hearing and Abu-Jamal was sentenced to life in prison.
For many years, District Attorney Lynne Abraham fought doggedly to reinstate the death penalty for Abu-Jamal. She has often characterized his conviction as “the most open-and-shut case” she ever tried. Abraham has pointed out that despite his claims of innocence, Abu-Jamal “has never produced his own brother, who was present at the time of the murder, yet he has offered up various individuals who would claim that one trial witness or another must have lied; or that some other individual has only recently been discovered who has special knowledge about the murder; or that someone has fallen out of the skies, who is supposedly willing to confess to the murder of Officer Faulkner.”
Among the many facts that Abu-Jamal has not been able to explain is how he received the bullet wound in the chest, nor why he was discovered at the murder scene. Despite the overwhelming evidence against him, groups such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the NAACP have continued to support Abu-Jamal for the last 35 years.
While imprisoned, Abu-Jamal has published several books, been interviewed by Vanity Fair and National Public Radio, and even given commencement speeches via videotape to Evergreen State College, UC Santa Cruz, Antioch College, and Occidental College. He has also received a bachelor’s degree from Goddard College as well as a master’s degree from California State University, both courtesy of the taxpayers.
Incredibly, in 2004, the city of Paris, France, awarded Abu-Jamal with honorary citizenship. Former Black Panther Angela Davis attended the ceremony and accepted the award on his behalf. In 2006, the French city of Saint-Denis named a street after Abu-Jamal.
Both Fidel Castro and Nelson Mandela once demanded a new trial for Abu-Jamal. Meanwhile, actors Danny Glover, Ossie Davis, Susan Sarandon, and Ed Asner have joined rappers Snoop Dogg and Public Enemy in supporting the convicted cop-killer.
In 1994, Maureen Faulkner, Daniel’s widow, learned that National Public Radio was planning to air a series of taped monologues by Abu-Jamal. It was at that time that she began her work to educate the public about the circumstances of her husband’s murder and the campaign to reinstate Abu-Jamal’s death sentence.
Officer Daniel Faulkner was a five-year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department as well as a U.S. Army veteran. At the time of his murder, Faulkner was attending classes in pursuit of his bachelor’s degree as he had hopes of becoming a criminal prosecutor. He left behind his wife Maureen, according to ODMP.
[Featured Image by Matt Rourke/AP Images]