Assassination Of Malcolm X Is Being Investigated Again, Following Netflix Series
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in New York is now reviewing the investigation of the 1965 assassination of civil rights leader Malcolm X that could potentially open a re-investigation of the case.
The new documentary series, “Who Killed Malcolm X?”, premiered on Netflix on Friday and has already sparked authorities to reopen the case on the civil rights activist’s assassination, which occurred over fifty years ago.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office said Monday it would review the case after new information came to light, leading to the possibility of clearing the name of two men who were convicted. Consequently, they are working with the Innocence Project, a non-profit that works to exonerate the wrongly convicted.
“Who Killed Malcolm X?” features historian Abdur-Rahman Muhammad in the six-part series, who is still searching for answers to the questions surrounding Malcolm X’s assassination.
Malcolm X died from gunshot wounds on Feb. 21, 1965, while giving a speech at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City’s Washington Heights. His wife and children were present at the time.
One year later, three men were convicted: Mujahid Abdul Halim (known as Talmadge Hayer and Thomas Hagan), Muhammad Abdul Aziz (known as Norman 3X Butler) and Khalil Islam (known as Thomas 15X Johnson). All of them were sentenced to life in prison.
Aziz and Islam claimed they were innocent throughout the years. Halim said he took part in the assassination but corroborated the innocence of the other two accused men, when he took the witness stand in 1966.
According to the Innocence Project, there was no physical evidence linking Aziz or Islam to the murder—and the 81-year-old Aziz is still trying to clear his name today. He was released on parole in 1985 but has had to carry the stigma of the conviction for more than 50 years. Islam passed away in 2009.
What led to these convictions was Malcom X’s previous split from the Nation of Islam one year before his death. He then received death threats from Nation of Islam followers, of which the three accused men were among.
The Innocence Project is lauding the new efforts to investigate this case again, including District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s choice of assigning it to Senior Trial Counsel Peter Casolaro and Conviction Integrity Deputy Chief Charles King.
“We are grateful that District Attorney Vance quickly agreed to conduct a review of the conviction of Muhammad Aziz. Given the historical importance of this case and the fact that our client is 81 years old, we are especially encouraged that Mr. Vance has assigned two highly respected prosecutors, Peter Casolaro and Charles King, to work on this re-investigation,” said Barry Scheck, Innocence Project co-founder and special counsel.
Scheck mentioned Casolaro’s “extraordinary work” on the case of the Exonerated Five— otherwise known as the Central Park Five—who were also featured in a recent Netflix mini-series, “When They See Us”. The high-profile series premiered last year to widespread acclaim and also shed light on wrongfully accused men of color, surrounding the case of a murdered woman three decades ago.