Murdered by Mumia

Twenty-six years ago, a police officer was brutally murdered on the cold, dark streets of Philadelphia. Patrolman Daniel Faulkner, making a routine traffic stop at about three o'clock on the morning of December 9, 1981, was knocked to the ground and shot several times in his upper body and face.

Four eyewitnesses to the cold-blooded homicide have identified the murderer as, Wesley Cook (AKA Mumia Abu Jamal). Mr. Cook was convicted of first degree murder the following year, and sentenced to death in the Electric Chair.

Well, here we are, 25 years later, and instead of an execution, we have something akin to a coronation. Mr. Cook has received money for the sales of books written while in prison, and he has been allowed to write a column in which he regularly rants about 'racial injustice in America.' In addition, his fight against the death penalty, for which he has had the support of several Hollywood celebrities, has proved fruitful because, a few years ago, a judge reduced his penalty to life in prison. Now, his international fan club, which has succeeded in getting him named an honorary citizen of 25 cities around the world, including Montreal, Paris, and Palermo, and even naming a street after him in the Paris suburb of St. Denis, is trying to get him released.

Maureen Faulkner, widow of the slain officer, recently co-authored the book Murdered by Mumia: A Life Sentence of Loss, Pain and Injustice. She should know; a part of her was murdered that fateful day.

When I think about the facts of this case, I have to agree with Mr. Cook, there is racial injustice in this country. Mr. Cook, a black man, murdered Officer Faulkner, a white man, and to this date Officer Faulkner has not received justice. Cook, a former member of the Black Panthers and an avid supporter of anti-government and anti-police groups, was observed firing a shot into Faulkner's back as the officer was struggling with Cook's brother William, the driver of the vehicle. The wounded officer spun around, drew his revolver, and fired back, hitting Wesley Cook in the upper torso.

At that point, the officer fell to the ground, writhing in pain from the back wound. Mr. Cook staggered a few feet, then, walked up to the helpless cop and fired at his chest. Faulkner was twisting furiously on the ground, trying to avoid the bullets. Ultimately, Cook placed the gun barrel within inches of the cop's face and fired again. Witnesses have stated that a few quick spasms signaled the end of Faulkner's life.

Before the officer stopped the vehicle, which was going the wrong way on a one way street with its lights off, he had radioed for backup, as police procedure dictates. After Cook fired the fatal bullet, he attempted to leave the scene, but his wound kept him from going very far. He was sitting on the curb with the murder weapon in his hand when the police arrived. When warned to drop the gun, he attempted to take aim at one of the responding officers, who, rather than shoot him, knocked the gun to the ground.

At the emergency room of the hospital, as Cook was violently resisting the police who brought him there for treatment of his wound, witnesses heard Cook shout: 'I shot the mother f...... and I hope the mother f..... dies.' The witnesses who were present at the shooting scene gave signed statements to the police only minutes after the occurrence. Without deviation, each one stated that they saw Cook murder Faulkner, and that they never took their eyes off him from the time he fired the fatal shots, to the time the police arrested him, just minutes later. At the subsequent trial, the witnesses testified accordingly.

One can scarcely imagine having more evidence for a trial and conviction than the incontrovertible facts presented here. During the trial, Mumia Abu Jamal, (He became an African tribal leader as soon as he found himself in a cell) repeatedly disrupted the proceedings on a daily basis with loud outbursts and verbal threats. An extremely patient judge and prosecutor dealt with his desperate attempts to make the trial about race, even allowing him to run his own defense and interview potential jurors.

In the end, the racially mixed jury convicted Mumia of First Degree Murder and recommended the death penalty. Up to that point, the system was working. If Mumia had been taken from the courtroom, brought to the place of execution, and been forced to pay with his life, justice would have been done.

But, this is America, the country that people like Mumia and others are quick to criticize as barbarous and primitive. In this country, the system of appeals is practically endless, and the race card has more stopping power than a .44 Magnum. Who cares that Officer Faulkner has been dead and buried for 26 years? Who cares that the evidence against his murderer is flawless? Who cares that the jury only needed 3 hours to arrive at a unanimous vote for conviction? Mumia is black, and that entitles him to proclaim that the only reason for his plight is his color.

Imagine if the situation were reversed. The white guy stood over the black guy and fired bullets into his face in front of 4 witnesses. Do you think the judge and the D.A. would be so patient with his courtroom antics? How many Hollywood celebrities do you think would be making appeals to save his life? Would he still be alive and able to spread his racist dogma in newspapers and magazines? Nah! He'd be toast!!

Mumia is right. This is a racist country.

Bob Weir is a former detective sergeant in the New York City Police Department. He is the executive editor of The News Connection in Highland Village, Texas.  Email Bob.
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