New York Daily News

January 7, 2004

No parole, cop widow pleads


The widow of a young cop gunned down with his partner in Harlem 33 years ago joined police leaders yesterday in an emotional plea against parole for the two killers.

Diane Piagentini said she's still coming to grips with the 1971 slayings of her husband, Joseph, 28, and Officer Waverly Jones, 33 - and is aghast that the murderers could go free.

"Joe and Waverly had no chance to defend themselves," Diane Piagentini said outside the 32nd Precinct on 135th St., where her husband and Jones worked. "They were killed only because they wore the blue uniform of New York's Finest.

"I couldn't comprehend how this happened," said Piagentini, who was left to rear two young daughters alone. "I still can't."

Yesterday's demonstration was intended to send a message to the state Parole Board not to free Herman Bell and Anthony Bottom, two of the three Black Liberation Army members convicted of the 1971 murders.

Joseph Piagentini and Jones were gunned down outside a Harlem housing project by Bell, now 55, and Bottom, now 52. The third gunman died in prison two years ago.

The slain officer's widow, who was joined yesterday by police union leaders and more than 100 cops, said she will make a victim impact statement to the Parole Board this week. Police groups are planning to flood the board with petitions containing more than 15,000 signatures.

"New York City police officers have not forgotten," said Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association.

Also arguing against parole was Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

"Any murder is unacceptable," Kelly wrote in a letter to state Parole Board Chairman Robert Dennison. "But when it involves the premeditated assassination of two uniformed members of the Police Department, this egregious crime takes on special significance."

Piagentini and Jones "were drawn into a trap for the purpose of killing them and fomenting social unrest," wrote Kelly, a young patrolman at the time of the killings.

Bell's parole hearing will be held next month while Bottom's hearing is set for July.