Philadelphia’s District Attorney Seth Williams announced yesterday that journalist and former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal will not face the death penalty. According to the L.A. Times, the “decision to end this fight [over a death sentence] was not an easy one to make” said Williams, who
concluded that prosecutors could not likely win another death sentence for the now 57-year-old convicted murderer in the face of steady opposition from the federal courts. And he said he did not want to put the widow of slain officer Daniel Faulkner through the ordeal of another sentencing hearing.
After three decades in prison or police custody–much of it spent on death row–for his conviction in the death of the Philadelphia police officer, Mumia’s reprieve came down from the city’s top prosecutor 30 years almost to the day after the shooting, which took place on Dec. 9th, 1981 at the corner of South 13th and Locust street in downtown Philly. Abu-Jamal intervened when he witnessed his younger brother William Cook involved in a physical altercation with Officer Faulkner, who according to eyewitnesses, struck Cook on the head and shoulders with “a black object, which could have been a nightstick, blackjack or a flashlight.” The scuffle ended in an exchange of gunfire in which both Abu-Jamal and Officer Faulkner were shot.
Although his supporters and members of the Free Mumia movement maintain that Abu-Jamal is innocent and possibly framed because of his outspoken criticism of the Philadelphia police as a print and radio journalist, Williams stated that he “remained convinced that Abu-Jamal was guilty as charged and deserved to die for his crimes.”