Two Men Wrongly Convicted In Malcolm X Killing Set to Receive $36 Million

Jaelani Turner-Williams Jaelani Turner-Williams is a contributing news writer for Okayplayer with…
Two Men Wrongly Convicted In Malcolm X Killing Set to Receive $36 Million
Photo Credit: Bettmann/Getty Images

New York City and New York State will pay $36 million to settle lawsuits on behalf of two men who were convicted of killing Malcolm X.

Nearly 60 years after the assassination of Malcolm X, New York City and New York State has agreed to pay $36 million in lawsuit settlements on behalf of Muhammad A. Aziz and Khalil Islam, who were previously convicted in connection to the 1965 murder. Both men were exonerated last year after a judge found “serious miscarriages of justice” in Aziz and Islam’s cases.

The two men were convicted in 1966 for X’s murder along with Mujahid Abdul Halim (known previously as both Talmadge Hayer and Thomas Hagan), and sentenced to life in prison. After Aziz and Islam claimed innocence, Halim acknowledged that he was involved with the assassination, but denied that the other two men took part. Aziz was released from prison in 1985 while Islam was released two years later but died in 2009, ultimately receiving a posthumous exoneration.

A 22-month investigation was conducted by then-Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s office and lawyers, finding that Aziz and Islam were innocent using evidence that included FBI documents. In July, Aziz filed a $40 million lawsuit in a Brooklyn federal court, claiming that his “wrongful conviction was the product of flagrant official misconduct, including, inter alia, by the NYPD and its intelligence unit, the Bureau of Special Services and Investigations.” While paperwork for the $26 million settlement is being finalized, the amount will be split between Aziz and the estate of Islam.

“What’s most important is that Muhammad Aziz and Khalil Islam have reclaimed their good names,” David Shanies, an attorney representing both Aziz and the state of Islam, said in a statement to CNN. “They will go down in history as two brave, dignified, innocent men who never stopped fighting their tragic wrongful convictions. It was imperative that these civil lawsuits be resolved immediately and fairly, and I am gratified that New York City and its lawyers worked with us toward a just resolution.”

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