The Philadelphia District Attorney announced that the prosecution has dropped the pursuit of the death penalty for Mumia Abu-Jamal (born Wesley Cook) on December 7, 2011.
Even though Abu-Jamal will still serve life prison without the possibility of parole, for his supporters along with the organization, Free Mumia, this is seen as a major victory.*
"While Abu-Jamal will no longer be facing the death penalty, he will remain behind bars for the rest of his life, and that is where he belongs," said Seth Williams, Philadelphia District Attorney.*
Abu-Jamal was convicted for the murder of Officer Daniel Faulkner on Dec. 9, 1981. According to trial testimony, Abu-Jamal saw his brother, William Cook, scuffle with Officer Faulkner during a 4 am traffic stop and ran toward the scene. Police found Abu-Jamal wounded and Officer Faulkner dead after being shot several times. A revolver registered to Abu-Jamal was found at the scene along with five spent shell casings.
He was tried and sentenced to death the following year. Both the event surrounding the murder and the trial has attracted controversy by those who believe Abu-Jamal is either innocent or guilty.
Supporters have claimed the Abu-Jamal was the victim of an institutional racism with in justice system. Many have pointed to his past involvements as a social activist and a member Black Panther Party being a major factor in his conviction.*
But opponents have pointed out that the gun used in Officer Faulkner’s murder was registered to Abu-Jamal and it was in his possession when he was arrested. According to the ballistics expert hired by Abu-Jamal’s attorney, the bullet fragments pulled from Faulkner's body were a match to his gun.* Also to note is that Abu-Jamal's own brother has never said a word in his defense.
Despite the controversy and attention; Abu-Jamal is not the only member of the Black Panther Party serving time for murdering law enforcement officials. H. Rap Brown is serving a life sentence for the 2000 shooting of two Fulton County Sheriff Deputies, Assata Shakur was serving time for the 1973 shooting of two New Jersey State Troopers before her escape in 1978, and the Angola 3 (Robert Hillary King, Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace) who were placed in solitary confinement for the murder of a Correctional Officer.
* Free Mumia
* Death Penalty Dropped Against Mumia Abu-Jamal
by Associated Press
* Socialist Action: Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
* Myths About Mumia