Accuracy in Media’s Brigette Namata pays a visit to the Occupy DOJ rally to see how good a grip the protesters have on inconvenient things like facts. Tales only get taller after 31 years it seems.
On December 9, 1981, in Philadelphia, close to the intersection at 13th and Locust Streets, Philadelphia Police Department officer Daniel Faulkner conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle belonging to William Cook, Abu-Jamal’s younger brother. During the traffic stop, Abu-Jamal’s taxi was parked across the street, and Abu-Jamal ran across the street towards the traffic stop. At the traffic stop, there was an exchange of fire. Both Officer Faulkner and Abu-Jamal were wounded, and Faulkner died. Police arrived on the scene and arrested Abu-Jamal, who was found wearing a shoulder holster. A revolver, which had five spent cartridges, was beside him. He was taken directly from the scene of the shooting to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital where he received treatment for his wound, the result of a shot from Faulkner.
Abu-Jamal was charged with the first-degree murder of Daniel Faulkner. The case went to trial in June 1982 in Philadelphia. Judge Albert F. Sabo initially agreed to Abu-Jamal’s request to represent himself, with criminal defense attorney Anthony Jackson acting as his legal advisor. During the first day of the trial, Judge Sabo warned Abu-Jamal that he would forfeit his legal right to self-representation if he kept being intentionally disruptive in a fashion that was unbecoming under the law. Due to Abu-Jamal’s continued disruptive behavior, Judge Sabo ruled that Abu-Jamal forfeited his right to self-representation.
Prosecution case at trial
The prosecution presented four witnesses to the court. Robert Chobert, a cab driver who testified he was parked behind Faulkner, identified Abu-Jamal as the shooter. Cynthia White, a prostitute, testified that Abu-Jamal emerged from a nearby parking lot and shot Faulkner. Michael Scanlan, a motorist, testified that from two car lengths away, he saw a man, matching Abu-Jamal’s description, run across the street from a parking lot and shoot Faulkner. Albert Magilton, a pedestrian who did not see the actual murder, testified to witnessing Faulkner pull over Cook’s car. At the point of seeing Abu-Jamal start to cross the street toward them from the parking lot, Magilton turned away and lost sight of what happened next.
The prosecution also presented two witnesses who were at the hospital after the altercation. Hospital security guard Priscilla Durham and Police Officer Garry Bell testified that Abu-Jamal confessed in the hospital by saying, “I shot the motherfucker, and I hope the motherfucker dies.”
A .38 caliber Charter Arms revolver, belonging to Abu-Jamal, with five spent cartridges was retrieved beside him at the scene. He was wearing a shoulder holster, and Anthony Paul, the Supervisor of the Philadelphia Police Department’s firearms identification unit, testified at trial that the shell casings and rifling characteristics of the weapon were consistent with bullet fragments taken from Faulkner’s body. Tests to confirm that Abu-Jamal had handled and fired the weapon were not performed, as contact with arresting police and other surfaces at the scene could have compromised the forensic value of such tests.