New York Daily News

August 7, 2005

Cop widow fights on

Sues killer who shot husband & partner


Patrick Lynch  
Vivian Scarangella (left), the widow of slain cop John Scarangella, and her daughter Gina hold up replicas of his badge, which they wear around their necks.  

The widow of a city cop executed in 1981 by black radicals and the squad car partner who survived the attack are ready to battle the killer again - this time in civil court.

Last week, convicted murderer Abdul Majid, formerly known as Anthony LaBorde, was escorted into an upstate courtroom under heavy guard.

Defiant and still without remorse, Majid, 56, was asked how much he would be willing to pay to settle a lawsuit brought by martyred Police Officer John Scarangella's widow, Vivian, and former cop Richard Rainey, who was badly wounded.

"Zero. Nothing whatsoever," said Majid, who was a member of the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army.

The Scarangella family and Rainey, with the backing of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, sued Majid to claim a $15,000 damage award the killer won after being roughed up by state prison guards.

They are resolved to hold him accountable for the attack against the cops, who never had the chance to draw their guns before their car was riddled with bullets on a Queens street.

The suit, brought under the state's Son of Sam law, seeks $10 million in damages, but Majid's only known asset is a $15,061.64 settlement from the state for excessive force by jail guards. It would go to Vivian Scarangella and Rainey, now 56, as partial compensation for their pain and suffering.

Scarangella was a 12-year veteran with four children when he and Rainey were gunned down by Majid and James Dixon York on April 16, 1981, in Hollis.

Scarangella, who was 42, clung to life for 16 days. Rainey, a 13-year veteran, survived despite eight gunshot wounds.

"We are doing everything in our power to see that this worthless cop killer gets punished to the maximum extent possible," PBA First Vice President John Puglissi told the Daily News on behalf of Scarangella and Rainey.

The PBA has frozen the cash in Majid's commissary account at Green Haven prison, according to union lawyer Greg Longworth.

Majid, who is serving 33 years to life, is representing himself. He told Dutchess County Supreme Court Justice James Brands he thinks he can convince a jury he's not guilty.

"This is a civil proceeding," Majid said at a hearing Thursday. "And it doesn't necessarily mean that a jury would necessarily agree with their contentions, that I, in fact, committed a crime and that I'm liable for the amount that's being asked by the plaintiffs."

The PBA requested a bench trial, but Majid asked for a trial by jury, which is his right. He will cross-examine witnesses, including Vivian Scarangella and Rainey.

The trial is expected to take place early next year.