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Attorney Ben Crump Holds Press Conference Announcing New Evidence In Malcolm X Assassination

Mustafa Hassan points to himself in a picture following the assassination of Malcolm X during a news conference with civil rights attorney Ben Crump and Malcolm X’s daughter IIyasah Shabazz on July 25, 2023, in New York City. | Source: Spencer Platt / Getty

A man who witnessed the assassination of Malcolm X more than 58 years ago said Tuesday that he has proof law enforcement knew there would be an attempt on the civil rights icon’s life on the day of the infamous fatal shooting in Harlem, further implicating the NYPD in the murder.

Mustafa Hassan, 84, was introduced by attorney Ben Crump as “the witness who was right there beside Malcolm in the last moments of his life” in the latest effort to bring “a small measure of justice” to the family of Malcolm X amid plans to sue the NYPD for its alleged involvement in the assassination.

MORE: What Was Malcolm X Working On When He Was Assassinated?

The two men were joined by co-counsel Ray Hamlin and Malcolm X’s daughters at the Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center, formerly known as the Audubon Ballroom where the assassination took place on Feb. 21, 1965. Malcolm X was just 39 years old.

While the NYPD and other law enforcement agencies have long been suspected of their involvement in Malcolm X’s assassination, Tuesday marked the first time a witness came forward with purported photo and video evidence to support those allegations with a first-person account.

After Crump told reporters that the FBI had many informants who withheld information about the assassination, Hassan was introduced and shared what he said he saw during that fateful day.

Hassan, then known as Richard Melvin Jones, read from a sworn affidavit recounting the series of events that led to the assassination.

Attorney Ben Crump Holds Press Conference Announcing New Evidence In Malcolm X Assassination

Source: Spencer Platt / Getty

As a then-member of the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU), which was started by Malcolm X following his departure from the Nation of Islam when he changed his name to El Hajj Malik El Shabazz, Hassan said he was working with OAAU’s security team in the Audubon Ballroom on the day of the assassination.

Hassan recalled that as Malcolm X began delivering his speech, someone yelled out, “nigga, get your hand out my pocket” before a loud explosion caused disruption and led to gunshots ringing out.

Hassan said he ran toward the stage and saw a man fleeing down the aisle with a gun. That person was Talmadge Hayer – also known as Mujahid Abdul Halim – who later admitted he took part in the murder. Hassan said he knocked down Hayer and continued to the stage to see that Malcolm X was near death. Hassan said he was overcome with anger and ran back to find Hayer, who was already outside being beaten by Malcolm X’s followers.

That’s when Hassan suggested it was apparent to him that the NYPD was in on the assassination.

Hassan said a group of NYPD officers “suddenly showed up on the scene,” held back Malcolm X’s followers and asked about Hayer: “Is he with us?”

Hassan suggested he took that to mean that the NYPD was aiding and abetting Hayer out of an apparent self-interest.

“From my vantage point this was an attempt by police to assist in him getting away,” Hassan said of the police.

Notably, Hassan said, there was typically a heavy uniformed police presence at every speech Malcolm X delivered. But on that day, there were no traces of police until the immediate aftermath of the shooting.

Attorney Ben Crump Holds Press Conference Announcing New Evidence In Malcolm X Assassination

Source: Spencer Platt / Getty

Pointing to a photo as proof of his claims, Hassan said he tried to stop Hayer from getting away.

“I reached out and grabbed him from his collar to prevent him from escaping,” Hassan said.

Crump’s office provided the photos in question to NewsOne.

Malcolm X assassination photos

Source: Ben Crump

After the police took Hayer into custody, Hassan said he returned inside the Audubon Ballroom to find Malcolm X’s body being removed on a gurney. Hassan pointed to other photos to prove he was there at that moment before claiming that two undercover NYPD officers were there.

Malcolm X assassination photos

Source: Ben Crump

One of those cops, Eugene Roberts, said he previously witnessed “a dry run” on at least one other assassination attempt on Malcolm X’s life, Hassan said.

Malcolm X assassination photos

Source: Ben Crump

Hassan also said he personally witnessed at least one other attempted assassination of Malcolm X one year earlier.

“To this day, despite my presence inside and outside of the Audubon on that day, law enforcement never attempted to interview or attain a statement from me regarding what I had seen, heard and actually did that day,” Hassan said.

Concerned that law enforcement might try to make him a suspect in the murder, Hassan said he and his family fled the country temporarily for their safety.

Watch Tuesday’s entire press conference below.

Hassan’s public statements come months after Crump announced in February the plans for a lawsuit to formally accuse the NYPD along with unnamed government agencies of a conspiracy surrounding the assassination.

At the time, Crump and Hamlin filed 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 sent to NewsOne.

Tuesday’s press conference also came more than two years after it was revealed that Ray Wood, one of the NYPD officers 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.

Hassan said Tuesday he saw Wood there.

“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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