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Man convicted in slaying of 2 NYPD officers in 1971 to be released on parole: source

Man convicted in slaying of 2 NYPD officers in 1971 to be released on parole: source
Posted at 11:21 PM, Sep 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-22 23:23:03-04

A man convicted in the 1971 Black Liberation Army assassination of two NYPD officers will be released on parole in October, the widow and daughter of NYPD Patrolman Joseph Piagentini told Scripps station WPIX-TV.

A state source confirmed the decision late Tuesday afternoon, saying 68-year-old Anthony Bottom, who now goes by Jalil Abdul Mutaqim, has been granted "an open release date of October 20, 2020 or earlier."

Bottom's been in state prison since 1977, more than 43 years.

"I am very angry," widow Diane Piagentini said about the decision.

Piagentini accused Bottom of being the most ruthless of the killers, who lured the two patrolmen, one Black and one White, to Harlem with a phony 911 call. Both NYPD officers were fathers.

The three BLA members had come to New York from California specifically to assassinate police officers.

When the officers responded to the housing project, they were ambushed from behind with a fusillade of bullets.

Bottom shot Piagentini’s partner, 33-year-old officer Waverly Jones, first. Jones, who was Black, was shot five times.

"He (Bottom) shot him in the head and down his spine," Diane Piagentini recalled.

Piagentini said Bottom then turned his gun on her 27-year-old husband, who had 22 bullet holes in his body when he was pronounced dead.

“He (Bottom) used Joe's gun to complete the killing because they were running out of bullets," Piagentini said of her husband’s death.

Two years ago, Piagentini had unsuccessfully fought the controversial release of Bottom's accomplice, Herman Bell.

Parole commissioners at the time were staying true to an Executive Order from Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2011, which told the board to be "forward thinking" and focus more on a prisoner's rehabilitation instead of the original crime.

During Bell's later parole hearings, he showed remorse.

The third convicted killer, Albert Washington, had died in prison.

Bottom has been in police custody for more than 49 years, ever since his arrest in California in August 1971. He was sent to New York State prison in 1977.

A Refinery29 article published earlier this year said he was diagnosed with COVID-19 during the pandemic.

A Sullivan County judge ordered a new hearing for Bottom in August. The prisoner appeared before the parole board on Sept. 11.

Diane Piagentini had written to the board in August this year, begging for Bottom not to be released.

"He's a BLA militant," she said. "He wants to kill cops. He has not been rehabilitated."

Piagentini wasn't allowed to face parole commissioners because of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Despite a move to release elderly prisoners during this pandemic, Piagentini said she doesn't believe that's the motivation for Bottom's release.

"It has nothing to do with COVID. It has nothing to do with his age."

Patrolman's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch, issued a statement to PIX11 Tuesday evening slamming the Parole Board decision, saying laws and mandates from Governor Cuomo and the state legislature have allowed for the latest in a long line of cop killers getting released.

"They knew that changing the parole guidelines would unleash more vicious killers like Anthony Bottom back onto our streets," Lynch said. "They have chosen to stand with the murderers, cold-blooded assassins, and radicals bent on overthrowing our society. We have now seen 16 cop-killers released in less than three years. We will continue to see more unless New Yorkers wake up and speak out against the madness being done in their names."

Bottom had joined the Black Panther Party in the late 1960s, after the assassination of civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

He believed that armed resistance was necessary to address systemic racism in society.

This article was written by Mary Murphy for WPIX.