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Sunday, May 15,2011

Columnis missed the point about Abu-Jamal

By Ron Brooks
From time-to-time the name Mumia Abu-Jamal appears in the news. His name almost always appeared in articles written by those more concerned about furthering the anti-death-penalty agenda than with the facts of this particular case.
Amy Goodman's article (May 2, The Athens NEWS) has done it again. She missed all the facts in the case and could obviously not care less that a police officer was brutally executed while doing his job.

Here are the facts:

On Dec. 9, 1981, at 4 a.m., officer Danny Faulkner stopped a car driven by William Cook for going the wrong way on a one-way street. In what is most certainly a coincidence, Cook's brother, Abu-Jamal, was across the street in his taxicab.

Immediately after stopping, Cook got out of the car and was ordered by officer Faulkner to put his hands up. As officer Faulkner approached, Cook turned and punched him in the face. Witnesses testified that the officer defended himself, and during the ensuing scuffle Jamal got out of his cab, ran across the street, raised his hand and fired a gun at officer Faulkner, striking him more than once. Cook was later found guilty of assault and subsequently refused to speak to investigators or testify at Jamal's trial.

No fewer than four eyewitnesses testified that Jamal then walked up to officer Faulkner and shot him at close range. At least two of these witnesses testified they never took their eyes off the incident and also saw officer Faulkner fire his gun at Jamal, striking him once in the abdomen. When other officers arrived on the scene, within seconds of the shooting, they found Jamal lying near officer Faulkner, gun at his side and an empty shoulder holster hanging under his arm. The gun was found to be registered to Jamal, having been purchased by him two years earlier. The bullets taken from officer Faulkner's body were linked by a ballistic expert to this gun. The two fatal bullets in officer Faulkner's body were said by experts to have been fired from less than 20 inches away.

Both officer Faulkner and Jamal were transported to a nearby hospital, where Jamal was heard by hospital staff to say "I shot the m*****f*****, and I hope the m*****f***** dies."

These are the facts Ms. Goodman has intentionally disregarded.

Another fact is that Jamal was working as a cab driver because he was fired from a radio station for spouting hatred on the air. He was a former associate of the Black Panthers and had been a journalist. The problem with his journalistic career was that no one wanted to print his racist rants. He was not, as it has been widely reported, a civil-rights activist.

It is also a fact that dozens of Jamal's appeals have been denied, and he has had several death warrants signed by Pennsylvania's governors. In all his appeals, the only stumbling point for the prosecution was that the trail judge may have incorrectly led the jury to believe they had to unanimously agree to the death penalty. At no time has any appeals court indicated that Jamal may be innocent of the murder.

As to the trial judge (Judge Albert Sabo), a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in 1998 that upon reviewing the entire record, it could not conclude that any of Judge Sabo's remarks were biased against the appellant.

It should also be noted that Jamal insisted on representing himself at trial. Despite his insistence, Judge Sabo appointed a lawyer to represent him but allowed Jamal to actively participate in his own defense, including selecting the jury that ultimately convicted and sentenced him to death.

But don't take my word for any of this. Do your own research. If you have already listened to Jamal's side, then you owe it to the memory of Danny Faulkner to read a book written by his wife, Maureen, called, "Murdered by Mumia: A Life Sentence of Loss, Pain, and Injustice." It contains many of the actual trial transcripts. For the rest of the transcripts you can read them at or any of a variety of other Internet sites.

We can debate weather the death penalty is an appropriate form of punishment. But there is no debating that this cop killer is guilty.

Editor's note: Ron Brooks is a life-long resident of Athens and a 24-year veteran of the Athens Police Department. He is also a Use of Force and firearms instructor and has been training police officers for many years.


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