Inmate Herman Bell, convicted of ambushing and murdering two NYPD officers and killing a third cop in San Francisco, was granted parole
An upstate New York man convicted of shooting an NYPD officer more than 20 times and murdering two other cops is expected to be released from prison next week.
State Supreme Court Justice Richard Koweek set inmate Herman Bell’s release date for 5pm April 27, according to the New York Post.
The 70-year-old is currently serving time at the Shawangunk Correctional Facility in Wallkill after being convicted of ambushing and murdering NYPD officers Joseph Piagentini and Waverly Jones in 1971.
Diane Piagentini, the widow of Officer Piagentini, requested a re-do parole hearing but it was denied.
According to the outlet, Koweek said Diane Piagentini’s opposition had already been heard by the parole board and she lacked the legal right to request a new hearing.
Officer Joseph Piagentini (left) and Officer Waverly Jones (right) were killed after they were lured to a home in Harlem by Bell and other members of the Black Liberation Army
Bell and the crew opened fire on the two NYPD officers killing Jones instantly and shooting Piagentini more than 20 times as he begged for his life. Bell is pictured above after his arrest in September 1973
Diane Piagentini, as well as the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, vowed to appeal Koweek’s decision.
‘Not only have they compounded the pain and suffering we have experienced since my husband’s death, they have also put the safety of the public in jeopardy by releasing a vicious killer like Herman Bell,’ Piagentini said.
Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said the decision to release Bell ‘will blow a gaping hole in our justice system, through which monsters like Herman Bell will continue to escape onto our streets’.
Retired NYPD officer and current New York State senate member Martin Golden said he wonders how Koweek ‘can put his head on a pillow tonight’.
‘It’s a disgrace,’ he fumed.
Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb said the ruling was a ‘slap in the face to police officers who risk their lives protecting us from killers like Herman Bell’. Even governor Andrew Cuomo said at a New York City event Thursday morning that he would not have granted Bell parole, the post reports.
Bell was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for murdering a pair of patrolmen in an ambush in Harlem. At the time, he was a member of the Black Liberation Army and the organization was targeting interracial ‘salt and pepper’ patrol officers.
Bell and two other members of the group lured Jones, who was black, and Piagentini, who was white, to a housing project with a bogus 911 call. When the officers arrived the crew opened fire killing Jones instantly.
Piagentini begged for his life as Bell and the other members shot him 22 times, including from his own gun.
Officer Piagentini widow, Diane Piagentini, requested the judge re-do Bell’s parole hearing demanding he stay behind bars
‘They have put the safety of the public in jeopardy by releasing a vicious killer like Herman Bell,’ Piagentini said of the judge’s decision. She’s pictured above on her wedding day with Officer Piagentini
While on the run, Jones helped other Black Liberation Army members assassinate an officer in San Francisco. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter in that case, saying he was just the getaway driver.
Bell was granted parole in March, on his eighth try. During his March 13 hearing, the convicted killer told the board that he had changed and was no longer the same person.
‘I have so changed, that you would want me to be your neighbor, you would want me to be your friend,’ he said. ‘I was impressionable. I was young. I was angry and full of aggressive energy. The person I was then, if that person was to come into this room, during this interview, I couldn’t recognize that person.’
Two of the three board members agreed that Bell had changed.
Since granting Bell parole, more than 367,000 online letters have been sent to parole board demanding he remain in prison. Almost 1,000 people have signed a petition in support of Bell’s release.
Bell, 70, said he’s changed and is no longer the same person who murdered three officers in cold blood
Waverly Jones Jr, the son of Officer Waverly, is among those who think the convicted murderer should be set free.
‘The simple answer is (parole) would bring joy and peace as we have already forgiven Herman Bell,’ he said in a letter, according to the New York Daily News.
‘On the other hand, to deny him parole again would cause us pain, as we are reminded of the painful episode each time he appears before the board.’
Jones Jr’s mother Mary Lewis told the outlet: ‘I’ve learned over the years that hate is a disease. When you keep hate in your life, then your whole life is empty. I wasn’t brought up to hate. I just feel that 45 years is a long time.’