New York Daily News

June 27, 2002

Don't Parole '71 Killer Of Cops, Widow Says

By FRANK LOMBARDI and LUIS PEREZ
Daily News Writers

ABlack Liberation Army member who helped ambush two cops in one of the city's more infamous police slayings should rot in jail and not be paroled next month, a widow of one of the cops said yesterday.

Standing outside her husband's old precinct house, Diane Piagentini said ex-radical Anthony Bottom should die behind bars for the 1971 cold-blooded slaying of Officers Joseph Piagentini and Waverly Jones.

"Anthony Bottom deserves no mercy," said Piagentini outside the 32nd Precinct. "He must spend the rest of his life in prison without parole."

  
  Joseph Piagentini

But City Councilman Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn) called Bottom a political prisoner.

"No matter what the situation, 30 years is enough," said Barron, a former Black Panther. "Let him out."

Bottom was one of three men who gunned down Officers Piagentini, 28, and Jones, 33, in a housing project in 1971. Piagentini was shot 13 times in the back.

Bottom, who later changed his name to Jalil Abdul Muntaquim, was sentenced to 25 years to life when he was convicted of murder in 1977. He is up for parole at the end of July because he has served 25 years in prison.

"He should be in prison for life — two lives," said Diane Piagentini, standing beneath maple trees planted in her husband's memory. "Two lives that he took away, not one."

Minutes later, Barron called on Gov. Pataki to grant clemency to Bottom and other jailed radicals — and quickly drew a firestorm of criticism.

"It's sad that an elected member of this body shows his true colors as being a supporter of domestic terrorism," Councilman Dennis Gallagher (R-Queens) said.

In turn, several African-American Council members heatedly stood up for Barron's right to introduce the resolution, citing freedom of speech.

"There are reasons why African-Americans and others acted out," said Councilman Albert Vann (D-Brooklyn), referring to the turbulent civil rights era.

Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Queens) then admonished Vann for "describing a vicious murder as 'acting out.'"

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, who responded to the crime scene as a young cop, called Bottom "an assassin."

"This was cold-blooded, premeditated, murder," Kelly said.