Staten Island Advance
June 29, 2002

Family demands no parole for militant who killed cop

By Verena Dobnik
Associated Press

The family of a police officer fatally shot in the back while responding to a medical call demanded yesterday that his convicted killer be denied parole — as a perpetrator of "domestic terrorism" on a par with the Sept. 11 attackers.

"Under no circumstances should these men be allowed out of prison for what they did," said Diane Piagentini, wife of Officer Joseph Piagentini, who was gunned down at age 28.

She spoke on a Manhattan sidewalk in front of the parole board office where she and her daughters made "victim impact" statements that would contribute to a parole decision.

One of Piagentini's killers, black militant Jalil Abdul Muntaqim — formerly Anthony Bottom — is up for parole on Sept. 27, and is to appear before the board next month to plead for mercy.

Bottom was a member of the Black Liberation Army, an extremist political group that killed officers — regardless of color — and robbed banks to finance its activities.

On the evening of May 21, 1971, Piagentini and his partner, Waverly Jones, 33, responded to a sick call at the Colonial Park Houses by the Harlem River Drive when they were gunned down from behind by a group of men who were following them. Piagentini and Jones — his black partner — both died of multiple gunshot wounds.

Of the five men indicted, Bottom and two other defendants — Herman Bell and Albert Washington — were convicted of murder in 1975 and sentanced to 25 years to life in prison. Bottom, then 19, and washington were arrested in San Francisco when they attempted to kill a police officer there using a machine gun.

"They're not political prisoners. They're domestic terrorists," said Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, which is backing the Piagentini family's efforts.

"The terrorists that took down the World Trade Center were trying to attack the way we live here in America," Lynch said, "There's no difference. They took the lives of those two police officers because they were protecting civil rights, they were protecting our right to stand here today."

Bottom, who considers himself a political prisoner, took on the Muslim name Jalil Abdul Muntaqim while in jail and graduated from SUNY-New Paltz in the 1990s with a bachelor of science degree in spychology and a bachelor of arts in sociology.

Yesterday, flanked by daughters Debroah and Mary, Diane Piagentini displayed a petition signed by 1,600 citizens demanding that Bottoms not be granted parole. The book of signatures, titled "No Parole for Cop Killer," is aimed at state justice officials considering Bottom's parole.

The petition was started by a neighbor who offered his help to the family. thousands of other signatures from private citizens were sent to the parole board from across the country, Diane Piagentini said.

"This is only the beginning for us, because these men will be eligible for parole every two years," she said.

After her husband's death, then Police Commissioner Patrick Murphy called the killings of the two officers "the most vicious crime against policement in this city in memory."

Lynch would not divulge where the Piagentini family lives, except to say their home was in the New York metropolitan areas. He said their lives might be in danger if any of the killers were freed on parole.

"We're here today to show our outrage at the possibility that these cold-blooded murderers would be let our on the streets of this great city," he said.