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Families oppose release of NYPD cop killer

The families of the slain officers said they didn’t want a repetition of what happened in the Herman Bell case

By Anthony M. Destefano

NEW YORK — The families of two NYPD officers slain nearly 47 years ago spoke with state parole board officials Friday to oppose any release of Anthony Bottom, one of the Black Panther members convicted of murdering the cops.

Bottom, 66, who is a serving a 25-years-to-life sentence for the killings of officers Anthony Piagentini and his partner, Waverly Jones, in May 1971, comes up for an interview before the parole board the week of June 11, officials said.

Last month, the board caused a furor when it released — over the objection of NYPD officials and hundreds of thousands of members of the public — Herman Bell, a reputed Black Liberation Army member who was Bottom’s accomplice in the killing of the two cops.

Speaking with reporters outside the parole board’s Manhattan offices, Diane Piagentini of Deer Park said the families of the officers didn’t want a repetition of what happened in the Bell case. She was joined by her daughter Mary and Manny Jones and Gwenna Wright, the siblings of Jones.

“We are here today united, united, the Jones family and Piagentini family, to make sure that Anthony Bottom doesn’t get released,” Diane Piagentini said. “It was atrocious what the parole board did with Herman Bell last month. That man should never have been released.”

Piagentini said parole should never be granted in any cop killer case.

Manny Jones said it “doesn’t make sense” to consider releasing Bottom. He told reporters that both Bottom and Bell were seen shooting at the two officers as they lay mortally wounded on the ground. Piagentini was shot a total of 22 times, police said.

As he has done in the past, Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association president Patrick Lynch blasted the parole board for releasing Bell, saying that the board recently experienced a “coup” in which “right-minded” commissioners had been removed in favor of those with an agenda. He didn’t elaborate.

In response, Department of Corrections spokesman Thomas Mailey said the parole board, formally known as the Board of Parole, was “an independent body” whose members were approved by the State Senate.

“The Board of Parole is the sole entity that considers parole eligibility,” Mailey said in a statement. “The Board adheres to statutory requirements that take into consideration a number of factors prior to making any final determination. The Board must consider statements made by victims and victim’s families if any, consider an inmate’s criminal history, institutional accomplishments, potential to successfully transition back into the community, and perceived danger to public safety.”

Over the years, Bottom has been litigious in prison. He sued the state in 2016 after he was placed in a special housing unit for allegedly violating prison rules by receiving photographs of a memorial service for a deceased Black Panther Party member. Bottom argued prison officials allowed him to receive the images but higher-ups said the photos depicted an “unauthorized organization,” court records show. Bottom lost his claim for damages for anxiety and mental distress.

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