On Tuesday, Muhammad Aziz, one of the two men acquitted last month in the 1965 assassination of civil rights icon Malcolm X, sued New York state for at least $20 million in damages, claiming that his incarceration had caused him “deep and lasting trauma.”
A judge exonerated Aziz, 83, and Khalil Islam, two of the three men convicted of the murder, earlier this month. According to the New York Times, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance discovered that authorities concealed evidence in the prosecution of Aziz and Islam following an almost two-year investigation.
Aziz and Islam have always claimed to be blameless in the assassination. Although Islam died in 2009, Aziz persisted in his efforts to clear his name. “While I do not linger on what my life would have been like if this travesty of justice had never transpired, the deep and lasting trauma it caused cannot be overstated,” Aziz said in a statement announcing the lawsuit on Tuesday.
“Those who took away my liberty and deprived my family of a husband, a father, and a grandfather should be held accountable,” he said.
Aziz has informed New York City that he intends to sue the city for $40 million unless a settlement is reached within 90 days. His lawyers have stated that they will launch similar actions on behalf of the Islam’s family. According to the lawsuit, this is Aziz’s first legal action since his record was cleared, and it “represents a pittance of restitution for the harm inflicted by this heinous miscarriage of justice.”
On February 21, 1965, while speaking at an Organization of Afro-American Unity gathering at Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom, a group of men rushed to the podium and fatally shot Malcolm X several times. Islam, then known as Thomas 15X Johnson, Aziz, then known as Norman 3X Butler, and Mujahid Abdul Halim, three members of the political and religious organisation the Nation of Islam, were arrested.
In 1966, they were found guilty of the shooting and condemned to life in prison. According to the Innocence Project, Halim admitted to playing a role in the assassination but insisted that Aziz and Islam were not involved.
Halim revealed his assassination co-conspirators in 1978. He named four more men who he claimed were also involved. According to the Innocence Project, a motion to dismiss Aziz’s and Islam’s convictions was denied at the time by a judge.
Following a Netflix documentary series last year titled “Who Killed Malcolm X?” that cast doubt on the convictions, Vance launched a probe into the matter. During Vance’s investigation, he discovered that important physical evidence and records had been misplaced over time. Furthermore, according to The New York Times, many detectives, witnesses, and prospective suspects have died since the case was closed, and the murder weapons could no longer be tested.
According to The New York Times, FBI documents also contained information that implicated other individuals and “pointed away” Aziz and Islam.
“This demonstrates the truth that law enforcement has frequently failed to live up to its responsibilities throughout history,” Vance told the New York Times. “These men were not given the due process they deserved.”
A confession letter written on his deathbed by a former Black New York Police Department (NYPD) cop was recently leaked. The letter claimed that the department and the FBI were involved in Malcolm X’s assassination. Ray Wood, who apparently worked as an undercover cop on the day Malcolm X was killed, admitted in a letter acquired by ABC News that he “participated in actions that in hindsight were terrible and damaging to the growth of my own black people.” On January 25, 2011, the letter was written.
Wood stated that in 1964, he was recruited by the NYPD to “infiltrate civil rights organizations” with the sole objective of unearthing evidence of criminal conduct so that the FBI could tarnish the image of their followers and arrest its leaders.
Wood claimed his handler organized the arrest of two of his “essential” security guards days before Malcolm X was fatally shot in order to leave a gaping breach in the civil rights activist’s protection system.
“On February 21, 1965, it was my mission to pull the two men into a felonious federal felony so that they could be detained by the FBI and kept away from overseeing Malcolm X’s door security,” Wood wrote. I had no idea Malcolm X was the target at the time.”