FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 26, 2019
CONTACT: Peter Giunta, (347) 621-8031
Assemblymember Michael Reilly (R-South Shore) wrote today in opposition to the potential release of Anthony Bottom, who is currently seeking parole for the eleventh time as he serves 25 years to life for the murder of two New York City Police Officers almost 50 years ago. Over 50 Assemblymembers and Senators from throughout the state, along with several New York City Councilmembers, have also added their name to the letter, addressed to the Supervising Offender Rehabilitation Coordinator at Sullivan Correctional Facility, where Bottom is currently held.
Bottom, who now goes by Jalil Abdul Muntaqim, was charged along with two others for the 1971 murder of New York City Police Officers Joseph Piagentini and Waverly Jones. The officers had responded to a fake 9-1-1 call in Harlem and were ambushed by Bottom and other members of the Black Liberation Army. During the attack Jones was killed instantly with one shot and Piagentini was shot at more than 20 times before eventually dying.
Herman Bell, one of Bottom’s accomplices serving the same sentence, was released on parole last year despite impassioned pleas from many throughout the state, including the families of those officers. Governor Andrew Cuomo, who many believe exerts great influence over the decisions of the Parole Board, emerged too late in opposition to Bell’s release.
In the letter, Reilly and other lawmakers state that “time does not absolve Mr. Bottom of the heinous crime he committed, nor does it heal the pain felt by the families of Police Officers Piagentini and Jones. There is no rehabilitation or redemption possible for those who murder our police officers.”
They continue, “A police officer’s life is no more valuable than the average citizen’s; however, these are the men and women who keep us safe and enforce our laws. Our modern society strongly believes that anyone who kills a police officer is a criminal – that belief is reaffirmed in our laws. Granting Mr. Bottom parole would only diminish the integrity of our justice system.”
“As someone who wore the uniform, it is personally offensive that the Parole Board would even consider releasing this cop killer,” said Reilly, a former Lieutenant with the New York City Police Department. “Herman Bell is one of the only cop killers to ever be granted parole in this nation’s history, and I strongly believe that granting parole to Anthony Bottom sends a very dangerous message to hardened criminals everywhere that there is absolutely no repercussion for killing a police officer.”
“Anthony Bottom was convicted of ambushing and murdering two New York City Police Officers as they were responding to a 9-1-1 emergency call. Mr. Bottom has actually considered himself a political prisoner, implying that murdering Police Officers is politically appropriate. Releasing Mr. Bottom would further exacerbate the dangers faced by Police Officers given the renewed anti-police rhetoric we see escalating today. Murdered Police Officers Waverly Jones and Joseph Piagentini can never return to their families, and neither should Mr. Bottom,” said Senator Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island).
Bottom’s parole hearing is in September, but the Parole Board is currently accepting public comment in favor of or opposing his parole. Copies of this letter have been sent to Tina Sanford, the Chairwoman of the Parole Board, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. A copy of this letter can also be found online at www.bit.ly/2Ppb5xM.