Police widow knows recurring pain of parole hearings for husband’s killers

Posted at 5:50 PM, Sep 28, 2012
and last updated 2013-05-02 18:06:51-04

Diane Piagentini is in her 60’s now, but she recently recalled the pain of losing her young husband 41 years ago, when Police Officer, Joseph Piagentini, was executed with his partner, Waverly Jones, on May 21st, 1971 in Harlem.

“They were the first police officers in the United States that were ever assassinated,” Piagentini pointed out to PIX 11, during a recent interview in her Long Island home.  “The slogan at that time was, ‘A pig is a pig,’ because that’s what they called police officers at that time.   It didn’t matter if they were white or if they were black.”


Officer Joseph Piagentini was executed with his partner, Waverly Jones, on May 21, 1971 in Harlem.

Officer Waverly Jones was black, and Joseph Piagentini was white.   Their accused killers, captured three years later, were members of the radical and violent Black Liberation Army, a group that  went on to kill ten, law enforcement officers across the United States.  Three men were convicted in the Jones/Piagentini murders: Albert Washington, Herman Bell, and Anthony Bottom.  Washington died in prison, but Bell and Bottom started coming up for parole, every two years, starting in 2000.

Piagentini spoke to PIX 11, to let viewers know the emotional pain police families face, when they prepare “victim impact statements” for the parole board bi-annually.  PIX 11 has been reporting extensively about upcoming parole hearings for the four killers convicted of assassinating rookie officer, Edward Byrne, in 1988—as he guarded the home of a  drug witness in South Jamaica, Queens.  The killers received eight thousand dollars from jailed, drug enforcer, Pappy Mason, to carry out the hit.

The state Parole Board does not keep statistics on how many convicted cop killers ever get released, but PIX 11 knows at least one got out on July 4th weekend, 2010.  Shulab Abdullah Raheem served 37 years for the murder of Police Officer, Stephen Gilroy, during a robbery and hostage-taking standoff at a Brooklyn sporting goods store in 1973.

The Patrolman’s Benevolent Association—better known as the PBA—has posted a new link on its website called “Keep Cop Killers in Jail”.  It lists the names of several dozen inmates still serving time for killing police officers, dating back to 1968.  27 of the officers were killed “on duty”—and 17 others were off-duty, when they responded to crimes in progress, paying with their lives.

The PBA told PIX 11 that its new link, launched on September 12th, has already generated more than two hundred thousand letters to the New York State Division of Parole.