A cop killer Herman Bell, who shot and killed two NYPD officers more than 40 years ago, has been released from federal prison amid uproar over his parole.
Herman Bell was released from Shawangunk prison in Ulster County as scheduled Friday afternoon. He will be supervised for life in New York, according to the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. NBC New York reported.
The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association tried to block Bell’s release, but an appellate judge in Albany rejected the legal motion. Although, the NYPD union has filed a new motion that will be heard the following week by a full panel of appellate judges to keep cop killer in prison.
“The parole board has lost their [expletive] humanity to think that a murderer should walk their streets,” PBA President Pat Lynch said angrily at a news conference Friday ahead of Bell’s release.
Cop killer Herman Bell was scheduled to be released last week, but the PBA had that delayed after an appeal on behalf of Diane Piagentini, widow of one of the slain officers. Her attorneys had argued the parole board didn’t follow proper protocols.
However, state Supreme Court Justice Richard Koweek ruled the state Parole Board did not act irrationally or outside its bounds when it granted parole to Herman Bell.
Piagentini said in a statement Friday, “The parole board did not take into account his mental stability. Bell is a planner and a manipulator he manipulated the parole board to release him.”
The PBA claims the 70-year-old has ties to terror groups and has taken to the internet to support terror attacks. In a statement, the NYPD police union called on the New York State Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo “to take action to fix the broken New York Parole Board system.” The PBA said the decision to parole Herman Bell was “flawed and illegal.”
“The current parole process contains gigantic loopholes that allow murderous monsters like Bell to game the system by concocting a phony story tailor made for the new parole guidelines, which don’t place enough weight on the nature of the crime,” Lynch said in press release, adding that the city’s “PBA will seek legislation that will close these loopholes and prevent other cop killers from stepping foot outside prison walls.”
Piagentini also rebuked Cuomo saying that “there is no word to describe the outrage and disappointment in Governor Cuomo” for not rescinding Bell’s release.
Brooklyn state senator Martin Golden said in a statement, “We must immediately fix the broken parole system to ensure that criminals who deserve to be in jail stay in jail. I stand with PBA President Pat Lynch and all law enforcement members as we fight to the right this wrong.”
Cop killer Herman Bell and two other members of the Black Liberation Army, a violent offshoot of the Black Panther Party, were convicted of killing police officers Waverly Jones and Joseph Piagentini after luring them to a Harlem housing development with a bogus 911 call in 1971. Police say both officers were shot multiple times, with Piagentini hit by 20 bullets.
Cop killer Herman Bell has spent more than 40 years in federal prison. One of Bell’s co-defendants has since died in prison while the other, Anthony Bottom, is serving 25 years to life at maximum security Sullivan Correctional Facility in Sullivan County. Bottom, 66, is due for a parole hearing in June 2018.
The decision to parole cop killer Herman Bell has been widely criticized by Republican state lawmakers. Governor Cuomo said that while he disagreed with the decision, the Parole Board isn’t subject to his direct control.
“If I were on the parole board I would not have made that decision,” he told journalists. “The Parole Board is an independent board, but I would not have made that decision.”
Supporters of the decision note that Herman Bell was properly eligible for parole and that continuing to incarcerate a senior man was an unwarranted use of state resources.
During Bell’s eighth parole hearing in early March 2018, the state parole board approved Bell’s release from Shawangunk Correctional Facility in Ulster County, determining “his debt has been paid to society.” Board members took into consideration his stated remorse for killing the police officers and the fact he had earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees while in prison and counseled other inmates.