Anthony Bottom, a black militant convicted along with two other men of gunning down two NYPD Police Officers in 1971 after luring them to a West Harlem housing project by placing a phony 911 call, will appear before the state Parole Board for the 12th time later this month.
Opposition to his release is as pronounced as on the first occasion.
‘Until Joe Comes Home’
“They are terrorists, they are assassins,” Diane Piagentini, the widow of one of the officers, said during a press event Aug. 16, before she delivered a victim’s impact statement to the Parole Board.
Mr. Bottom, also known as Jalil Abdul Muntaqim, and the two others, Herman Bell and Albert Washington, were sentenced to 25 years to life for the killings of Officers Joseph Piagentini, 28, and Waverly Jones, 33, on May 26, 1971, outside the public-housing development on West 155th St. built on the site of the former Polo Grounds. The two officers, who graduated from the same Police Academy class in 1966, were among 12 NYPD cops and three members of the old Housing P.D. killed that year.
Mr. Bell was paroled in April last year, despite Mrs. Piagentini’s efforts to keep and then put him back behind bars.
She said she wants to ensure that his accomplice doesn’t, and never will, get released.
“I’m here today to plead with the Commissioners, just like my husband Joe pled for his life while Anthony Bottom stood over him with a revolver and continuously shot him,” she said outside the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision on West 40th St.
“Anthony Bottom should never get out of jail until Joe comes home,” she said. “This is a family that he destroyed. My husband he was a father, a son, a husband, a brother, a friend to many people, and he loved his job. He loved the people in Harlem.”
Mr. Bottom, who will be 68 next month, has been eligible for parole since 2002. He is currently housed at the Sullivan Correctional Facility.
He has never admitted guilt. Some have questioned his conviction, citing a police ballistic expert’s later perjury conviction tied to false testimony about the purported murder weapon.
A witness, a member of the Black Panther Party, recanted his testimony, saying he had been tortured by New Orleans police, who had arrested Mr. Bell. There also were allegations that evidence was withheld.
The Police Benevolent Association’s president, Patrick J. Lynch, also vociferously opposes the release of Mr. Bottom, whom he called “a domestic terrorist.”
Given the release of Mr. Bell, though, Mr. Lynch was bracing for a similar outcome for Mr. Bottom, who is scheduled to appear before the Parole Board the week of Sept. 9.
“We know now that there’s not common sense in this building, in those Commissioners,” he said on West 40th St. “None of us want this cop killer on the street.”
The panel will have two weeks from the date of the parole interview to render its decision.
Mr. Washington, the third man convicted in the murders, died in 2000.
Mr. Bell was freed following an eighth appearance before the Parole Board. Following his release, Mrs. Piagentini filed an action in State Supreme Court, arguing first that the board had not considered her victim impact statement and, when she learned that it had in fact reviewed it, amended her action to say that the board had not given it adequate consideration.
The court dismissed her petition, citing Mrs. Piagentini’s lack of standing, but also stated that even if she did have standing, her petition would have failed on the merits.
She appealed, saying the board’s decision to parole Mr. Bell was "irrationality bordering on impropriety."
The Appeals Panel, in a 4-1 decision issued Aug. 22, again ruled that she did not have standing.
“Although crime victims are granted certain rights in relation to criminal actions and parole proceedings, those rights are limited and do not allow victims to control the criminal process or collateral proceedings,” three of the concurring Justices wrote.
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