Senator Patrick M. Gallivan (R-C-I, Elma) and Senator Martin Golden (R-C-I, Brooklyn) are calling on the New York State Board of Parole to reverse its decision to release inmate Herman Bell, one of three men convicted in the 1971 murder of two New York City police officers. The request comes after a review of sentencing minutes from 1975 that members of the Board of Parole may have failed to consider when they granted Bell’s release earlier this month.
“Our review of the original sentencing minutes in this case indicates that the commissioners who voted to release Herman Bell did not properly take into consideration the recommendation of the judge,” said Gallivan, who serves as Chair of the Senate Committee on Crime Victims, Crime and Correction. “Judge Greenfield made clear his intent that Bell should serve a sentence as long as legally permissible. He also ordered Bell’s New York sentence to be served consecutive to an earlier sentence of 25 years he received in the state of California. In light of this information, I urge the Board of Parole to suspend Mr. Bell’s release and conduct an immediate rescission hearing.”
“With the imminent release of Herman Bell, the Board of Parole has shown a blatant disregard to the wishes of the Piagentini and Jones Families, the original sentencing judge, prosecutors, thousands of New Yorkers, and society as a whole,” said Senator Golden. “As soon as April 17th, we could have another cop killer back on the street. This is wrong and everybody knows it.”
Officers Joseph Piagentini and Waverly Jones were ambushed at a Harlem housing project after responding to a bogus 911 call on May 21, 1971. Both officers were shot and killed. Officer Jones died instantly from a gunshot to the head. Officer Piagentini, who begged for his life, was shot 22 times by the suspects and died on his way to the hospital.
The Board of Parole voted 2-1 to grant Bell’s release earlier this month.
Senators Gallivan and Golden have written letters to Board of Parole Chairwoman Tina Stanford requesting that she suspend Bell’s release and conduct a Rescission Hearing to ensure that all appropriate and relevant information is considered and that the law is properly applied.