It’s hard for me to fathom how people can hate so purely that their loathing goes well beyond the bounds of reason. But so it is, with those who want to see Mumia Abu Jamal executed. The former radio journalist and taxi driver was convicted in 1982, of the killing of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner, but Mumia has always maintained his innocence.
Now there is convincing proof that Mumia was right all along. On the eve of the publication of a new book by Mr. Faulkner’s widow, who claims in a new book that she knows Mumia did it, a series of photographs has been discovered and released recently in Philadelphia, adding even more proof that Mr. Abu Jamal is innocent.
We’ve known all along that the jury pool was tainted, stripped of Blacks, that he was framed by a police force, a prosecutor, and a judiciary tainted by racism. But now, these pictures, by freelance photographer Pedro Polakoff taken the night of the shooting, prove that the conspiracy to blame Mr. Abu Jamal began that night at the crime scene, according to Mumia’s supporters.
“These photos effectively refute key elements of the prosecution’s case. And clearly, one picture is worth a thousand words, this is irrefutable evidence,” Linn Washington, a Temple University journalism professor and a member of Journalists for Abu Jamal said in an interview.
Despite charges from critics that the pictures may have been altered, they have been carefully scrutinized and scientifically examined, according to Mr. Washington. “There’s a photo of the bloodstream that’s coming from officer (Faulkner). What you don’t see is any splatter marks that would be consistent with a bullet having been shot right through the head. But of more import, is that you don’t see any divots, or chips, or concrete missing that would be consistent with high velocity bullets hitting a sidewalk at a distance of 12 inches or a little more. That particular photo has been subjected to a digitized enhancement by a satellite photo expert, and he found nothing there.
“Then there’s also a number of shots showing deliberate manipulation and corruption of the crime scene. One of the police officers testified that when he got there he secured the slain officer’s gun and Abu Jamal’s gun, which was in fact was registered to him. The photos show over a sequence of time that the police officer is holding the guns in his hand. He’s holding them by the grips, he’s holding them by the barrels, he’s holding them by the trigger guards,” Mr. Washington continued, but there was no evidence presented in court showing fingerprints on the weapons. The guns had been wiped clean of fingerprints by the police.
The photos were discovered in 2006 by Dr. Michael Schiffman a German researcher working on his doctoral dissertation. His findings were published in a book available now, only in Germany, called Race Against Death. The book is a complete analysis of the Abu Jamal trial said Mr. Washington. Dr. Schiffman discovered the photos on the website of the photographer who shot them.
The photographs had actually been turned over by photographer Pedro Petrokloff to the District Attorney’s office in 1982. Mr. Petrokloff “always thought that Abu Jamal was guilty as charged, so when (the prosecutors) didn’t get back to him, his reaction was: ‘They didn’t think it was important. They had enough other evidence. This doesn’t involve me. I’m out of it,'” said Mr. Washington.
What the pictures show is the whole changing of the crime scene. Why?
“There’s a very big interest on the side that wants him executed, because if he gets relief, then that shows that the District Attorney’s office in Philadelphia engaged in gross misconduct,” said Mr. Washington.
“The current DA in Philadelphia, her hands are tainted because of her past involvement in this case as a judge. She was the judge that arraigned Abu Jamal at his bedside. All along this case you find the careers of very powerful people, littered along here. All along the line on this case, there is an effort to keep it where it is, that he’s convicted and there’s no merit (in his claims of innocence), because so many people have engaged in such deep misconduct and in some cases, outright corruption,” Mr. Washington continued.
“That’s why his case has such a big importance. And people overseas and people around the United States see the flaws here, and you don’t need a law degree, nor do you need to read 15,000 pages of trial transcripts understand that this is a gross injustice.”
Even before these latest developments, Mr. Abu Jamal’s supporters had sought a new trial on grounds that a racist conspiracy denied Mr. Abu Jamal justice in his original trial. The district attorney, at that time was Ed Rendell, who is now the governor of the State of Pennsylvania and the former head of the Democratic National Committee.