PBA & Widow Blast Parole of Cop Killer


PBA President Patrick J.  Lynch  and the widow of a police officer slain 46 years ago  demanded on Thursday that the state parole board be fired after the panel voted recently to release the killer who had been sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

“To let this animal on the streets is disgraceful,” Lynch said at a press conference at PBA Manhattan headquarters

The “animal” in question was Herman Bell, now 70, who as a member of the 1970’s militant group Black Liberation Army  targeted cops as foils of a oppressive government and made a fake distress call in Harlem before assassinating police officers Joseph Piagentini and Waverly Jones on May 21st, 1971. Bell had two accomplices, one of whom died in prison while the other is still behind bars.

After showcasing good behavior in prison following his arrest and after seven appeals to the State Parole Board Bell gained the right to his liberty; he may be freed as soon as April.

“They were assassinated only because they wore the blue uniform,” said Diane Piagentini, the widow, standing beside Lynch and other police union members. She also said the proposed release “put a bull’s-eye on every cop in the city” and that he would be freed “to kill again’.

Earlier this week, the parole board sent a letter to Mr. Bell crediting him with showing remorse for the murders and taking into account  his age, clean disciplinary history,and “sturdy network of supporters.”

But Lynch and others discredited his expression of remorse and decried social media campaigns that they said portrayed the killer as some kind of political “folk hero“.

“We believe that the members who made this horrible decision have not only betrayed the trust of al the line of duty police families,” the widow said, ” but have also failed in their duty to protect the citizens of this state.”

Lynch added that he was “sickened” by the move and that board commissioners Otis Cruse and Carol Shapiro have “lost their souls.”

Various Twitter accounts have expressed satisfaction in Bell’s release; some calling him a “respected elder” and others a “political prisoner”.

The family of Waverly Jones was not present at the press conference, but a letter sent by that officer’s son expressed forgiveness for Mr. Bell “killing his father.”

“To deny him parole again,” the letter said, “would cause us pain as we are reminded of the painful episode each time he appears before the board.”

Both Mr. Lynch and Ms. Piagentini demanded that Bell’s release be reversed, and both requested that New York citizens become more vocal in making that a reality.

“If the public speaks,” Lynch said, “anything is possible.”




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