By JEFF MACKLER
A Philadelphia press conference called on May 5 by Mumia Abu-Jamal’s new legal team has opened a new stage in the fight for Mumia’s freedom.
Attorneys Marlene Kamish and Elliot Grossman presented a sworn statement by Arnold R. Beverly stating that he, not Jamal, had killed police officer Daniel Faulkner in the early morning hours of Dec. 9, 1981. Four additional affidavits were released by the defense team, each presenting new eyewitness testimony supporting Jamal’s innocence.
All affidavits have been submitted to the Federal District Court where Judge William H. Yohn is considering Mumia’s appeal of his state court conviction.
Jamal, an award-winning journalist and internationally-supported Black political prisoner, has been on Pennsylvania’s death row for 19 years, falsely convicted of Faulkner’s murder. Mumia has become a world symbol of opposition to the corrupt and racist nature of the U.S. criminal “justice” system, and the racist and barbaric death penalty. Millions have demonstrated for a new trial and for his freedom the world over.
Arnold Beverly’s sworn statement reads as follows:
I, ARNOLD R. BEVERLY, state that the following facts are true and correct:
I was present when police officer Daniel Faulkner was shot and killed in the early morning hours of Dec. 9, 1981, near the corner of Locust and 13th Streets. I have personal knowledge that Mumia Abu-Jamal did not shoot police officer Faulkner.
I was hired, along with another guy, and paid to shoot and kill Faulkner. I had heard that Faulkner was a problem for the mob and corrupt policemen because he interfered with the graft and payoffs made to allow illegal activity including prostitution, gambling, drugs without prosecution in the center city area.
Faulkner was shot in the back and then in the face before Jamal came on the scene. Jamal had nothing to do with the shooting.
Before the shooting, I was shown a picture of Faulkner and told that Faulkner was supposed to check something at Johnny Ds (at 13th and Locust) sometime in the early morning hours of Dec. 9.
Two of us were hired for the shooting so that either of us could take the opportunity to make the hit, get the job done, and leave. The other guy gave me a .38 caliber policeman’s special and I was also carrying my own .22 caliber revolver.
I waited at the speedline [subway] entrance at the northeast of corner of Locust and 13th at the parking lot, I was wearing a green (camouflage) army jacket. The other guy waited on the south side of Locust street east of 13th Street towards Camac Street.
While I was waiting at the speedline entrance for Faulkner to arrive at the location, I saw police officers in the area. Two undercover policemen were standing on the west side of 13th north of Locust. Also a uniformed police officer was sitting in a car in the corner of the parking lot. They were there while the shooting of Faulkner took place. I was not worried about the police being there since I believed that since I was hired by the mob to shoot and kill Faulkner, any police officers on the scene would be there to help me.
After a while I saw Faulkner get out of a small police car parked behind a VW parked on Locust Street, east of 13th St. Faulkner was alone. He got out of the police car and went up to the VW.
I heard a shot ring out coming from east on Locust Street, Faulkner fell on his knee on the sidewalk next to the VW. I heard another shot and it must have grazed my left shoulder. I felt something hard on my left shoulder. I grabbed at my shoulder and got blood on my hand.
I ran across Locust Street and stood over Faulkner, who had fallen backwards on the sidewalk, I shot Faulkner in the face at close range. Jamal was shot shortly after that by a uniformed police officer who arrived on the scene.
Cop cars came from all directions. Foot patrol also arrived. I saw a white shirt getting out of a car in the middle of the 13th & Locust intersection just as I was going down to the speedline steps.
I left the area underground through the speedline system and by pre-arrangement met a police officer who assisted me when I exited the speedline underground about three blocks away. A car was waiting for me and I left the center city area.
The foregoing is stated subject to the penalties of 18 Pa.C.S. Section 4904 relating to unsworn falsification to authorities.
ARNOLD R. BEVERLY, 6-8-99
Beverly passes lie detector test
On May 29, Jamal’s new legal team also filed the affidavit of Dr. Charles Honts, who had administered a polygraph (lie detector) examination of Beverly in 1999 to ascertain the validity of his testimony.
Beverly was asked three central questions: Were you present at the scene of the murder? Did you murder police officer Daniel Faulkner? Did Mumia Abu-Jamal kill officer Faulkner?
Dr. Honts, who heads the Psychology Department at Boise State University and who has served as an expert witness for 20 years, determined that Beverly’s statements had been truthful. (Included with Dr. Honts’ affidavit was a 37-page curriculum vitae.)
Honts also prepared a supplementary affidavit analyzing a polygraph test administered to Beverly by Earl A. Rawlins. The results of this test are disputed by Honts, who effectively demonstrates that they failed to meet the scientific and probative standards of the profession.
The new attorneys also filed a request that the Federal Court take a deposition from Arnold Beverly, during which time the right of cross examination would be extended to the prosecution as well as the defense. A chief motivation for the deposition request is a defense concern for Beverly’s life.
The Philadelphia District Attorney’s office objected to the deposition request, citing a number of technical deadlines it claims Mumia has already exceeded.
But District Attorney Lynne Abraham’s position also relies heavily on the unauthorized book published by Mumia’s former attorney, Dan Williams, “Executing Justice: An Inside Account of the Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal.” Abraham quotes extensively from Williams’ book to the detriment of Jamal.
But contrary to Abraham’s assertion, Williams’ book was not written “with petitioner’s [Jamal’s] permission.” It was authored by Williams without Jamal’s knowledge or consent and was cited by Mumia as the central reason for Williams’ dismissal a few months ago. The publication of Williams’ book represented a fundamental breach of the attorney-client relationship.
The fact that Williams’ book is today used by the prosecution as an argument against Jamal’s fight for justice and freedom is a tragic turn of events. Unauthorized and contrary to the facts of the case and Mumia’s legal strategy, William’s misconduct, in combination with the new eyewitness testimony, provides ample support for Mumia’s new petition to secure a second Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) hearing.
On May 30, the defense filed a formal response to Abraham’s opposition to the deposition of Beverly. A defense team press release notes: “If the District Attorney’s Office believed its own representations to the District Court and the media that Beverly’s confession is a ‘patently outrageous story’ and a ‘lie,’ they would welcome, rather than oppose, being given the opportunity to cross-examine the witness under oath.”
The defense has also requested that Judge Yohn grant a stay of District Court proceedings pending a decision of the state court as to whether to grant a second PCRA hearing. To date, no decisions have been made by any court.
Declaration of Mumia Abu-Jamal
The May 5 press conference released an affidavit from Mumia himself, who, for the first time, explains in detail what happened at approximately 4 a.m. when he approached the murder scene. Jamal states:
I am the Petitioner in this action. If called as a witness I could and would testify to the following from my own personal knowledge: “I did not shoot Police Officer Daniel Faulkner. I had nothing to do with the killing of Officer Faulkner. I am innocent.
At my trial I was denied the right to defend myself. I had no confidence in my court-appointed attorney, who never even asked me what happened the night I was shot and the police officer was killed; and I was excluded from at least half the trial. Since I was denied all my rights at my trial I did not testify.
I was filling out my [taxi cab driver’s] log when I heard some shouting. I glanced in my rear view mirror and saw a flashing dome light of a police cruiser. This was not unusual.
I continued to fill out my log/trip sheet when I heard what sounded like gun shots. I looked again into my rear view mirror and saw people running up and down Locust. As I scanned I recognized my brother standing in the street staggering and dizzy. I immediately exited the cab and ran to his scream.
As I came across the street I saw a uniformed cop turn toward me gun in hand, saw a flash and went down to my knees. I closed my eyes and sat still trying to breath. The next thing that I remember I felt myself being kicked, hit and being brought out of a stupor.
I saw my brother, blood running down his neck and a cop lying on his back on the pavement. I was pulled to my feet and then rammed into a telephone pole, beaten where I fell and thrown into a paddy wagon. I think I slept until I heard the door open and a white cop in a white shirt came in cursing and hit me in the forehead.
I don’t remember what he said much except a lot of “[the n words],” “black mother-[expletive deleted]er,” and what not. I believe he left and I slept. I don’t remember the wagon moving for a while and when it did for sometime. I awoke to hear the driver speaking over the radio about his prisoner….
Upon arrival [at Jefferson Hospital] I was thrown from the wagon to the ground and beaten. I was beaten again at the doors of Jefferson. Because of the blood in my lungs it was difficult to speak, and impossible to holler. I never confessed to anything because I had nothing to confess to. I never said I shot the policeman. I did not shoot the policeman.
I never said I hoped he died. I would never say something like that.
Declaration of William Cook
A third affidavit was released from Mumia’s brother, William Cook, another eyewitness who has never before testified. Now stating his willingness to appear in court, Cook explains that he and his street-vendor business partner and family friend, Kenneth Freeman, were present at the murder scene.
Freeman was carrying a .38 caliber gun, according to Cook, and was a passenger in Cook’s VW, which had been stopped by Faulkner. The prosecution has falsely maintained that Cook was the sole person in the VW.
“I got out of my car,” states Cook. “Poppi [Freeman] stayed in the car in the passenger seat. I let him (the cop) know I was not happy.
“After that we went back and forth verbal confrontation. He pulls out a stick or some kind of object and slaps me in the head three times. By that time he had me on the side of the car, I started bleeding profusely. So I go back to my car to get my paperwork.
“When I heard the first shot I was in the drivers seat facing toward the back of the car looking for something in the back seat to give to the cop like an owners card. The back seat had a lot papers and things from the stand, teddy bears, stuffed animals. We sold all that kind of stuff.
“When I had gotten in my car Faulkner was in front of the car by the hood where he had stopped me and frisked me. When I was in the car looking in the back, I heard gun shots and saw sparks but I didn’t see him shot. I saw flashes of a gun out of the side of my eye. He was standing in front of the car but I didn’t see him shot. I was facing the back of the car….
“When I first saw my brother, he was running. He was feet away from me. … He had nothing in his hands. I heard a shot and I saw him stumble. I didn’t see who shot him. He was stumbling forward….
“When I was looking in the back seat Poppi was still there and then I looked and Poppi’s door was open. He had been in the passenger seat and I don’t know which way he had gone. He left the area right after this happened.
“Later Poppi talked about a plan to kill Faulkner. He told me that he was armed on that night and participated in the shooting.”
Cook’s statement is consistent with facts that have surfaced in the course of Mumia’s travail. A driver’s license had been found on the body of the slain police officer. While its owner provided proof that he could not have been on the murder scene, he affirmed that he had given it to Freeman.
Freeman was found dead under mysterious circumstances in 1985 on the day of the racist police bombing of the MOVE headquarters. His body had been injected with lethal doses of drugs.
Declaration of Donald Hersing
A fourth affidavit presented by the defense is signed by Donald Hersing, a person employed as a “Confidential Source of Information” (CSI) for the FBI during “an investigation relative to the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Police Department, which involved among other things police extortion of payoffs for the purpose of allowing prostitution and other vice-related activities to take place in Philadelphia’s Center City area.”
Hersing’s five-page affidavit details his undercover role in making FBI-initiated payoffs to a number of corrupt Philadelphia cops for a broad array of illegal activities. He states that his testimony was chiefly responsible for their indictment and conviction.
His affidavit states: “individual street prostitutes were also run and controlled by police who demanded money, sexual favors and information from them in order for them to continue to work the streets with less frequent arrests. I heard about a prostitute called Cynthia White, known as Lucky, who worked the street and also went to a rival studio run by a woman named Tracy.”
Cynthia White was the key “eyewitness” who testified that Mumia killed police officer Faulkner. At the time it was not known that she had been operating in the area with the consent of Philadelphia police who had been extorting money from her. White has mysteriously disappeared, despite repeated efforts by the defense to locate her.
In light of her direct dependence on the police, White’s testimony against Mumia would have been severely compromised had it been known during Mumia’s trial.
Veronica Jones, another prostitute working in the area, also testified against Mumia but recanted her testimony during the 1995 Post Conviction Relief Act hearing, when she stated that she lied under pressure of police threats of prosecution and incarceration.
At that time, racist “hanging” Judge Albert Sabo discounted Jones’s recantation as preposterous. Jones was arrested by New Jersey police (on an unrelated matter) as she walked off Sabo’s witness stand.
Among the corrupt police officers Hersing lists and identifies is Alphonso Giordano, who was on the crime scene and initially figured into the frame-up of Mumia. A statement by Giordano claimed that while in the ambulance Mumia had confessed to shooting Faulkner. Prosecution concerns about Giordano’s credibility, given his corruption indictment status, led the prosecution to decline to call him to testify.
Declaration of Linn Washington
A fifth and final affidavit came from Linn Washington, who was a reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News at the time of Faulkner’s murder. He states:
“When I arrived at the 13th and Locust crime scene [at 8:30 a.m.], the first thing that struck me was the absolute absence of any police. … I found it highly unusual that no police were maintaining the integrity of this crime. … I had covered previous shootings, including some non-fatal shootings of police officers, where police kept the crime scene cordoned off from the public for days.”
The five new affidavits present additional convincing evidence of Mumia’s innocence. Those familiar with the history of the case and conduct of the 1982 frame-up trial also know that the mountain of evidence previously submitted, and the exculpatory evidence kept from the jury, coupled with numerous violations of Mumia’s constitutional rights during his trial, has thoroughly refuted the prosecution’s frame-up.
Mumia Abu-Jamal, a respected journalist and Philadelphia’s leading police corruption critic, with no previous criminal record, was framed for a murder he did not commit. Arnold Beverly has today admitted to that murder and yet the state persists in its now-exposed cover-up while Mumia’s life hangs in the balance.
Mumia, his legal team, and his organized supporters have long known that his freedom does not rest in the “good will” or “fairness” of the criminal “justice” system. It must be wrested from those very criminals and their ruling-class-based institutions that are responsible for Mumia’s 19 years of horror.
To win Mumia’s freedom we are obligated to continue to build an irresistible social movement with deep roots in U.S. society and worldwide to force the purveyors of crime and conspiracy and their masters who hold state power to back off from their planned execution. Mumia’s freedom is in our hands.