March 3, 2014

PBA Pleased Parole Board Rejected Bid Of ’72 Cop-Killer

By Mark Toor


PATRICK J. LYNCH: ‘We’ll continue this fight.’

DIANE PIAGENTINI: ‘Killings laced with hatred for cops.’  

The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association Feb. 25 lauded the state Parole Board announcement that it had denied a release to Herman Bell, who helped kill two New York City police officers more than 40 years ago.

“Herman Bell and his fellow assassins were convicted of executing two New York City police officers in 1972,” PBA President Patrick J. Lynch said in a statement. “Both officers were husbands and fathers who had young children. Their convictions at trial should have sealed their fate permanently but, sadly, the law of the land allowed and still allows the two surviving killers to apply for parole every two years. 

‘Should Never Walk Free’

“While we are pleased that Bell was denied parole again today,” he continued, “the NYC PBA pledges to continue to fight against his parole applications in the future. Bell’s victims, Police Officers Joe Piagentini and Waverly Jones, cannot be paroled from death, and Bell and his cop-killing partners should never be allowed to walk the streets as free men again.”

Mr. Bell, now 66, was one of three members of the murderous Black Liberation Army who ambushed Officers Piagentini and Jones as they responded to a call at a housing project in Harlem. The three men shot the officers from behind.

Officer Jones was shot four times in the back of the head. Officer Piagentini was shot 13 times but did not die right away. His killers continued shooting as the officer pleaded for his life.

A second killer died in prison, but the third, Anthony Bottom (who now calls himself Jalil Muntaquim), is up for parole later this year.

Mr. Bell and Mr. Bottom have been turned down for parole every two years since 2004.

Cites Possible Recidivism

“After a review of the record and interview, the panel has determined that, if released at this time, there is a reasonable probability that you would not live and remain at liberty without again violating the law,” the state Parole Board wrote in its latest denial for Mr. Bell.

“This was a calculated, premeditated act laced with hatred for the blue uniform and the men who wore it,” said Officer Piagentini’s widow, Diane, at a recent press conference sponsored by the PBA to encourage public opposition to the release of Mr. Bell and Mr. Bottom. “...Our lives have been changed forever...They have not shown any remorse for what they’ve done.”

Mr. Bell denied his guilt for 40 years, until he admitted during a 2012 parole hearing, “While I was underground I ended up killing two men, New York City Police Officers Waverly Jones and Joseph Piagentini.” He said the attack “was nothing personally directed at any law-enforcement person per se, it was part of a response on the part of the black community to address some of the—what we viewed to be the repression, the racism, the lack of opportunities that we were confronted by in the black community...”

Behind 13 Cop Murders

The BLA was formed in 1971 by violent former members of the Black Panther Party. It collapsed 10 years later after the robbery of a Brink’s armored truck in Rockland County, in which two police officers were slain. Several BLA members and radical white activist Kathy Boudin were arrested.

The BLA was responsible for as many as 13 murders of police officers around the country, including Officers Piagentini and Jones and three others from the NYPD.

The PBA has been a leader in the fight to keep convicted cop-killers from winning parole, and Mr. Lynch thanked “the hundreds of thousands of right-thinking citizens who have sent letters through the PBA’s website opposing the parole of all cold-blooded cop killers.”

More than 896,000 letters opposing parole for 67 incarcerated cop-killers have been sent through the union’s “Keep Cop-Killers in Jail” website (, launched on Sept. 12, 2012.