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Anthony Bottom, Convicted Of Killing 2 NYPD Officers In 1971 Ambush, Granted Parole

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There is outrage from the family of a murdered NYPD officer after the state Parole Board ordered one of the killers be set free.

It's the second cop killer granted parole in the shocking targeting of two cops back in the early 1970s, CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reported Thursday.

For decades, Diane Piagentini pleaded with the board to keep the man who murdered her police officer husband behind bars for life.

But now, her worst fears have been realized.

"Gut wrenching," Piagentini said.

Anthony Bottom, who is now 68 years old, has been granted parole. He's the man who in 1971 with two other members of the Black Liberation Army brazenly ambushed and killed officers Waverly Jones and Joseph Piagentini in Harlem.

Joe Piagentini begged for his life.

"And Bottom heard him, heard his words and continued to shoot him," Diane Piagentini said.

But changes to parole guidelines and the makeup of the Parole Board granted freedom to one of the killers, Herman Bell, in 2018. The third man convicted, Albert Washington, died in prison.

Bottom will be released by Oct. 20.

"How in the wide world could Gov. Cuomo allow these two to get out?" Diane Piagentini said.

Supporters argued Bottom is a changed man after four and a half decades behind bars. Jose Saldana was incarcerated with him and now advocates for older and reformed convicts.

"He is beyond remorseful. He has completely transformed his life and he has helped an entire generation of younger people transform their lives," Saldana said.

However, Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch said cop killers should never be returned to society.

"The governor, the Legislature have changed the rules, where it's easy for cop killers and killers of our citizens to be released, never once thinking about the victim," Lynch said.

In all, 16 cop killers in New York have gone free in three years.

"We are talking about assassins walking our streets," Lynch said.

Diane Piagentini, who raised two daughters alone, said she will now fight for a change in the state Legislature.

"Bottom and Bell should never get out of prison, should never have gotten out of prison until my husband comes down the driveway and says, 'Diane, I'm home.' And that is never going to happen," she said.

The parole hearing transcript has not been released, but the board weighs many factors, including victim's statements, the inmate's accomplishments and potential danger to society.

The governor has not yet responded to requests for comment.

The following is a joint statement from the Release Aging People in Prisons Campaign, Parole Preparation Project, Brooklyn Defenders Office, and Legal Aid Society in support of the state Parole Board's decision to release Jalil Muntaqim, aka Bottom:

"We support the Parole Board's decisions to release incarcerated older people who have served decades in prison and pose no risk to public safety. The purpose of parole is to evaluate people for release based on who they are today, not to extend sentences into perpetuity. This and other recent decisions the Parole Board has made based on those principles are the right ones," the statement said.

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