New York 1 News

February 11, 2004

Man Who Killed Two Police Officers In 1971 Is Denied Parole

Convicted cop killer Herman Bell was denied parole Wednesday.

Herman Bell    

Bell is currently serving a sentence of 25 years to life in an upstate prison for the 1971 murder of two city police officers. In denying Bell’s parole, the state parole board today said that Bell's release would “depreciate the severity of the crime in the eyes of the community and undermine respect for the law."

In a statement, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association says it is pleased by what it calls an "appropriate decision," and that it shares the relief of the family and friends of the officers.

Bell, 55, was convicted in the murders of officers Joseph Piagentini and Waverly Jones. The two officers were gunned down in what prosecutors said was a planned assassination at the Colonial Park Houses on 159th Street and Harlem River Drive.

On May 21, 1971, Bell and two other activists from the Black Liberation Army, Anthony Bottom and Albert Washington - known in some circles as The New York Three - shot Jones and Piagentini when they responded to a phony distress call. The PBA says Bottom shot Jones from behind and then, after Piagentini pleaded for his life, Bell shot him 13 times.

Bell, who has served 29 years in prison, maintains he was wrongly convicted. He claims prosecutors and police used illegal tactics to convict him, and he and his supporters consider him a political prisoner.

Bell earned a graduate degree behind bars, and his supporters call him a model prisoner.