With Herman Bell freed on parole although he participated in the execution-style slaying of two police officers in 1971, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association is working to ensure that two other cop-killers eligible for release remain behind bars.
The two men are scheduled for parole hearings in June. One is Anthony Bottom, a partner of Mr. Bell in the murders of Officers Joseph Piagentini and Waverly Jones outside a Harlem housing project. The other is Eddie Matos, a burglar who in 1989 pushed Officer Anthony Dwyer, 23, off a Times Square rooftop during a chase.
Release is on Appeal
Mr. Bell was freed April 27 despite a legal and public-relations campaign by the PBA and Officer Piagentini’s widow, Diane, after Albany Supreme Court Justice Richard Koweek ruled that Ms. Piagentini had no standing to sue to block parole.
The case was appealed to the Appellate Division, and Mr. Bell, 70, could be ordered back to prison if that move is successful. Ms. Piagentini in her lawsuit charged that Mr. Bell’s parole board ignored evidence it was legally required to consider, such as statements from the judge and a defense attorney at his sentencing that indicated he might never be rehabilitated. Justice Koweek did not rule on these issues.
The PBA believes those who kill police officers should never be paroled, and family members of the three slain officers testified before the parole boards in mid-May to explain why the murderers should remain in prison.
Mr. Bottom was previously rejected for parole seven times; Mr. Matos, twice.
PBA President Patrick J. Lynch said May 11 outside the Manhattan office of the parole board, surrounded by Officer Dwyer’s family, “It is strictly a chance of chronology that Eddie Matos is able to seek parole. Had he been convicted before 1972, he may have been given the death penalty. Had he been convicted after 2005, he may have been given life without parole. But this dirtbag, and 61 others just like him, won the parole lottery by chance.”
Lucky ‘Group of Mutts’
“Even our so-called ‘progressive society’ today believes that cop-killers should pay for their crimes by losing their freedom forever,” he continued. “But this group of mutts got lucky, and in doing so, continue to inflict pain and suffering on the families of police officers whose lives they have taken every two years when they become eligible for parole.
“We join Ed and Marge Dwyer and their children today to deliver a message to the N.Y. State Parole Board that parole may be appropriate for some low-level criminals, but it is never appropriate for cop-killers. Keep cop-killers in jail for life.”
“My son will never get a chance to come back to his family,” said Ms. Dwyer, 74. “This guy does not deserve a chance either, he should stay there and rot in hell as far as I am concerned.”
Decision Was ‘Atrocious’
A week later, also in front of the parole-board offices, Ms. Piagentini said the officers’ families did not want to see Mr. Bottom, 66, given parole as Mr. Bell was.
“We are here today united, united, the Jones family and Piagentini family, to make sure that Anthony Bottom doesn’t get released,” she said. “It was atrocious what the parole board did with Herman Bell last month. That man should never have been released.”
Officer Jones’s brother Manny, 72, told the Daily News, “I always said Bell could get out when my brother comes back to us. Now he’s out, but I don't see my brother.”
Mr. Lynch reviewed the murders of Officers Piagentini and Jones. “Anthony Bottom, Herman Bell and Albert Washington, plotted and killed two officers in a hail of gunfire in the most notorious, heinous and sadistic assassination of police officers in our city’s history,” he said in a statement.
“These two heroic cops had just answered a fake call for help when these three cowards attacked them from behind and assassinated them for no other reason than wearing the blue uniform. Bottom shot Waverly Jones in the head, killing him instantly, but that was not enough for Bottom, who put four more rounds from his .45-caliber handgun down Waverly’s spine."
'Evil' Beyond Redemption
He continued, “Joe Piagentini begged for mercy for the sake of his wife and two baby daughters and was shot over 20 times by the trio in the most-sadistic manner imaginable. Then the trio of cold-blooded cop-killers celebrated their ‘victory’ and partied through the night. There is an evil in this world that cannot be rehabilitated, and Anthony Bottom and his murdering partners are its embodiment.”
Mr. Washington died in prison in 2000.