Paroled cop killer asked to give speech at university; officer’s widow objects
"I would not like to see the school besmirched by hosting a brutal killer of police officers,” said Diane Piagentini, whose husband and a second officer were ambushed in 1971
By Suzie Ziegler
NEW YORK — On Sunday, the widow of slain NYPD Officer Joseph Piagentini called on a university to cancel its plans to host a speech by her late husband’s killer.
Jalil Muntaqim, formerly known as Anthony Bottom, was convicted in 1971 for the ambush killings of two NYPD officers: Piagentini and Officer Waverly Jones. Bottom, 70, served nearly 50 years in prison before he was paroled in 2020. Bottom was sentenced to 25 years to life alongside his co-defendant, Herman Bell.
Recently, Bottom was invited to be a guest speaker at SUNY Brockport, a university in western New York state, according to CBS News. SUNY Brockport later said it would change the event to a virtual format after weeks of controversy, the report said. Diane Piagentini was stunned by the news.
"I had to read that email over at least five times. I couldn't believe what I was reading, that he was going to give a lecture. When he joined the Black Liberation Army, he knew what he was doing. He knew what he was doing that night," Piagentini said.
At a Long Island rally on Sunday, Piagentini and several NYPD police unions called for the virtual event to be canceled.
"I would not like to see the school besmirched by hosting a brutal killer of police officers who will mislead the students by portraying himself as a political prisoner and freedom fighter," Piagentini told News 12.
Fifty years ago NYPD Officers Joseph Piagentini & Waverly Jones — two men committed to doing good — were ambushed while walking a beat in Harlem. The signs unveiled by the NYPD today will ensure all who see the names of these great cops will #NeverForget their ultimate sacrifice. https://t.co/hijnbfpN9e pic.twitter.com/CSw7izMBu0— Bill Bratton (@CommissBratton) May 21, 2021
SUNY Brockport so far has not canceled the event, citing First Amendment rights. The school says a private donor will be paying Bottom for his expected appearance on April 6, according to Rochester First. The parolee was invited to speak by a school faculty member.
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.