ALBANY, N.Y. — Parole officials in New York state are being urged to deny the release of a former Black Panther convicted in the deaths of two New York City police officers in 1971.
Sen. Patrick Gallivan of Erie County and other GOP lawmakers held a press conference Tuesday to urge New Yorkers to sign a petition opposing the release of Herman Bell, who has a hearing before the state’s parole board next month. Bell’s previous requests for release have been rejected seven times.
Bell, now 70, was one of three men convicted of murder for the killings of officers Joseph Piagentini and Waverly Jones in a Harlem housing complex. The officers were lured to the building by a bogus 911 call. Jones was shot in the head and died instantly.
“Officer Piagentini was made to beg for his life and was shot 22 times,” said Gallivan, a former Erie County sheriff.
Bell argues he has reformed during his decades in prison and is no longer a threat. On his internet blog, Bell writes that he regrets the loss of life during the “turbulent times” of the 1960s and ’70s.
“Many people from those days have moved on, have been forgiven, have been allowed to go on and live productive lives (while others were sent to prison and are still carrying that burden),” he wrote. “The past is behind me now, and I wish to move on.”