Man convicted in 1971 NYPD cops’ slayings granted parole, widow ‘heartbroken’

Diane Piagentini blamed the decision on a shift toward a more lenient approach to parole in New York


By Suzie Ziegler 

NEW YORK — A man who was convicted in the 1971 killings of two NYPD police officers has been granted parole after nearly 43 years behind bars, reported NBC New York

Anthony Bottom, 68, was approved for parole after a hearing earlier this month. His parole comes after his co-defendant, Herman Bell, was granted parole in 2018. The two were members of a violent offshoot of the Black Panther Party called the Black Liberation Army. The group sanctioned killings of police officers in New York and California, according to NBC New York. 

Pictured are NYPD Police Officers Joseph Piagentini and Waverly Jones. (Photo/NYPD)
Pictured are NYPD Police Officers Joseph Piagentini and Waverly Jones. (Photo/NYPD)

Bottom and Bell were each sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for ambushing Officers Waverly Jones and Joseph Piagentini. 

According to NBC 4, Piagentini’s widow blamed the decision on what she described as a shift towards a more lenient approach to parole in New York. 

“We are heartbroken to see another of Joe’s killers set free by politics,” said Diane Piagentini in a statement obtained by NBC New York. "Instead of taking into consideration their horrendous crime, they are only looking at 'Oh, look at what he did in prison.'" 

Bottom, Bell and another co-defendant who died in prison have claimed they were innocent and had been framed by the FBI, according to NBC New York. 

Next: Why the murders of NYPD Officers Jones and Piagentini still resonate

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