Diane Piagentini, whose husband Police Officer Joseph Piagentini was murdered on May 21, 1971, speaks outside the Parole Board in Midtown Manhattan in October 2018. (Luiz C. Ribeiro / for New York Daily News)
The widow of an NYPD police officer shot dead almost 50 years ago went public Wednesday to renew her plea to the state Parole Board to keep the last of her husband’s killers locked up for life, now that the man is up for parole once again.
Diane Piagentini, who will formally testify before the board on Friday, says the pain of losing her husband, Officer Joseph Piagentini, feels as fresh today as it did on May 21, 1971, when Piagentini and his partner, Officer Waverly Jones, were shot dead by members of the Black Liberation Army while responding to a fake 911 call at a Harlem housing project.
Anthony Bottom, one of Officer Piagentini’s convicted killers, has spent the last 48 years behind bars. He is now up for parole for the 11th time.
“The absence and loss of my husband, Joe, can’t be quantified. There are just no words to describe the pain and void felt continually, to this very day, among our family because he is not here,” Piagentini said in a statement Wednesday.
“We cannot let the passage of time wipe away the memory of one of the most vicious police murders in the city’s history. Anthony Bottom took my Joe’s life and he should remain in prison for the rest of his life,” she said.
Bottom, who now goes by the name Jalil Abdul Muntaqim, was one of three men who had been sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for the 1971 murder. Herman Bell was released on parole last April after served almost 40 years in prison. Albert Washington died behind bars in 2000.
NYPD Officers from the 32nd Pct. In Harlem, Waverly Jones (left) and Joseph Piagentini were both killed in the line of duty in 1971 by Herman Bell. (New York Daily News / AP)
Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch also decried Bottom’s possible release Wednesday.
“Releasing cop-killers shows a complete and total disregard for the law and for the devastating loss suffered by the officer’s families,” he said. "If you plan and kill someone you have voluntarily given up your life of freedom for the life that you have ended. No parole for cop-killers, ever.”
After Herman Bell was released last year, Piagentini’s widow sued to force a reversal of the New York State Parole Board’s decision. That case is pending.