Credit Mayor Bill de Blasio for doing what Gov. Andrew Cuomo won’t — officially writing the state parole board to urge it to reverse its outrageous decision to parole serial cop-killer Herman Bell.
“Murdering a police officer in cold blood is a crime beyond the frontiers of rehabilitation or redemption,” the mayor wrote to board Chairwoman Tina Sanford in pressing for reconsideration of its “tragic and incomprehensible decision.”
Yes, this may be a shot at Cuomo, who appointed the board members who voted to release Bell in the 1971 targeted assassinations of Officers Joseph Piagentini and Waverly Jones.
Yet de Blasio is absolutely right. He’s also shown far more passion than Cuomo, who has basically limited himself to press-office statements about how his hands are tied.
Is there any legal way to overturn the ruling?
The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association has formally asked for a rescission hearing, saying the board failed to consider “significant information”: Specifically, it didn’t review the minutes of Bell’s original sentencing (as it has in prior parole hearings), which indicated the judge’s intent.
Also, while the board said it gave great weight to a letter from Jones’ son claiming his family has forgiven Bell, this failed to reflect the fact that the slain cop’s brother and sister (whose views weren’t solicited) remain strongly opposed to freeing the killers.
Moreover, the PBA questions Bell’s sudden expression of guilt and remorse after decades of denial, calling it “tailored to fit the board’s rehabilitation guidelines.”
We’ll be going through all this again in June when Bell’s accomplice Anthony Bottom, aka Jalil Muntaqim (who boasted of having “offed two pigs”) is up for parole.
As Police Commissioner James O’Neill says, parole is for people “who deserve a second chance.” And neither Anthony Bottom nor Herman Bell fit that bill.