Response to “Barletta Honors Police Officer Daniel Faulkner on 40th Anniversary of His Murder”

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EDITOR: At the beginning of your article on “former mayor and congressman Lou Barletta, leading Republican candidate for governor of Pennsylvania” and his statement on Police Officer Daniel Faulkner, you give a point-by-point description of the killing of Mr. Faulkner in December 1981. I don’t know whether your description reflects your own position on the matter or only Mr. Barletta’s, who, given his remarks on the alleged killer, Mumia Abu-Jamal, clearly seems to subscribe to it. Unfortunately, almost everything about that description is false. Let me go through this one by one.

  • Abu-Jamal’s brother William Cook was not going the wrong way on a one-way street. The transcript of Abu-Jamal’s trial makes that crystal-clear. He was driving on Locust in the correct direction (eastwards) when he was stopped by Officer Falkner after he had passed the intersection of 13th and Locust. The reasons for this traffic stop are unknown to this day.
  • Faulkner was not handcuffing William Cook when Abu-Jamal ran across the street. Had he been handcuffing him, the handcuffs would have been found in the street, which they were not. He was beating him with a flashlight that was later found at the scene. Police photographs taken at the police precinct show William Cook bleeding from a head wound.
  • Much more importantly, there is no credible evidence that Abu-Jamal shot the officer in the back. Abu-Jamal came running across the street and the bullet that hit the officer in the back exited in one piece beneath his throat. Had Abu-Jamal been the shooter, that bullet would have had to have been found in or on the building 1234 Locust in front of which the events took place. It was not.
  • It is most unlikely that Faulkner shot Abu-Jamal as the officer fell to the pavement. The bullet that hit Ab-Jamal in the chest and ended up near his spine showed a clear downward trajectory. It could thus hardly have come from a shooter who was falling to the pavement.
  • Abu-Jamal did not stand over the fallen officer and shot him four more times. In addition to the wound in his back, Faulkner was hit only once, namely right in the head beneath his left eye. Had Abu-Jamal – or anyone else for that matter – stood over him, shot and hit him, and fired three more shots, the bullets from these shots or clearly visible divots from these bullets would have had to have been on the sidewalk. Multiple photographs, one of which was analyzed by a NASA specialist, show that they were not.
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The last point is highly significant. Three alleged eyewitnesses testified that Faulkner was killed execution-style in the manner described in your article. This is clearly not true. The fact that the testimony of these witnesses is practically identical in this regard clearly shows that their testimony was coordinated, that is, coached. The central “evidence” on which Abu-Jamal was convicted thus turns out to have been a lie.

Moreover, the trial transcript, which is now confirmed in this regard by much additional evidence, shows that two of these witnesses did not even see the shooting. None of the other witnesses at the trial saw them where they claimed to have been, and two of the witnesses quite close to the scene specifically denied they were there.

The points above should be enough to overturn Abu-Jamal’s conviction and to either let him go home or give him a new trial.

If Mr. Barella cared about truth and justice, that’s what he, too, would be demanding.

Officer Faulkner may or may not have been a hero – too many facts about the events that led to his death are still unclear to definitely tell. But given the actual evidence in this case, it is certainly not heroic to use the officer’s death to strike cheap poses and prate about the “killer” and “his bogus claims of innocence.”

Wasn’t the American justice system once supposed to be about being innocent until proven guilty? If Abu-Jamal’s claims of innocence are so bogus, why, then, does the alleged evidence against him contain so many falsities and lies?

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People who want to know more about this can go to a website I recently created,

Michael Schiffmann
I am a linguist, cultural scientist, translator and author in Germany and have written and published extensively on this case, which I have been researching since 1999, both in English and German.

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