An imminent lawsuit will formally accuse the New York Police Department (NYPD) along with unnamed government agencies of a conspiracy surrounding the assassination of Malcolm X, according to civil rights attorney Ben Crump.
The lawsuit’s announcement is expected to be made on Tuesday, which marks the 58th anniversary since the civil rights icon was shot to death while giving a speech in New York City’s famed Harlem neighborhood.
Crump will be joined at a press conference by co-counsel Ray Hamlin to file a notice of claim “with intent to sue government agencies and the NYPD for the alleged assassination and fraudulent concealment of evidence surrounding Malcolm X’s murder,” according to a press release emailed to NewsOne.
Also present at the announcement will be Malcolm X’s daughters.
The press conference will be held at the Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center, formerly known as the Audubon Ballroom where Malcolm X was shot dead at 39 on Feb. 21, 1965.
The intent to file a lawsuit comes two years after it was revealed that Ray Wood, an NYPD officer who was working undercover when Malcolm X was assassinated, “confessed in a deathbed declaration letter that the NYPD and the FBI conspired to undermine the legitimacy of the civil rights movement and its leaders,” Crump and Hamlin said in a statement at the time.
Wood’s letter was read aloud by Reggie Wood, a relative and administrator of Malcolm X’s estate, and handed to three of Malcolm X’s children — Qubiliah Shabazz, Ilyasah Shabazz and Gamilah Shabazz — who were in attendance.
“I participated in actions that in hindsight were deplorable and detrimental to the advancement of my own Black people,” the letter attributed to Wood says in part. “My actions on behalf of the New York City Police Department were done under duress and fear.”
The letter also stated that Thomas Johnson, one of the men arrested in connection with Malcolm X’s murder, was wrongfully convicted.
“Any evidence that provides greater insight into the truth behind that terrible tragedy should be thoroughly investigated,” Ilyasah Shabazz, daughter of Malcolm X, said at the time.
Days later, Wood’s daughter claimed the latter was “fake.”
The letter echoed theories raised in the 2020 Netflix documentary, Who Killed Malcolm X? The series followed Abdur-Rahman Muhammad, an activist and self-trained investigator who dedicated his life work to solving the civil rights icon’s murder. In the documentary, Muhammad interviews several important figures involved in the investigation and explores different conspiracy theories including possible federal and state law enforcement involvement. Muhammad also attempts to explore an accusation that Malcolm X’s alleged killer was a Newark community leader who worshipped at a local Mosque.
Three men were jailed for the 1965 murder of Malcolm X. Talmadge Hayer – later known as Mujahid Abdul Halim – admitted he took part in the murder, while two other men, Norman 3X Butler (who later changed his name to Muhammad Abdul Aziz) and Thomas 15X Johnson (who took the name Khalil Islam), maintained their innocence. Aziz was released on parole in 1985; Islam was released in 1987 but died in 2009; Halim was released in 2010.
In 2021, Abdul Aziz and Islam were ultimately exonerated for their alleged roles in the assassination. This past October, it was announced that both men and their families would receive a $36 million settlement after suing the city and the state of New York.
“Based on our review, this office stands by the opinion of former Manhattan District Attorney Vance who stated, based on his investigation, that ‘there is one ultimate conclusion: Mr. Aziz and Mr. Islam were wrongfully convicted of this crime,'” a New York City Law Department spokesman told ABC News at the time.
Vance notably apologized for “serious, unacceptable violations of the law and the public trust.”
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