ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A New York judge has dismissed a lawsuit police and their supporters hoped would block the parole of convicted New York City cop killer Herman Bell.
State Supreme Court Justice Richard Koweek ruled Friday that the state Parole Board did not act irrationally or outside its bounds when it granted parole last month to Bell after serving 44 years.
Bell had been granted parole to leave prison on April 17 but was delayed after a filing by the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association on behalf of Diane Piagentini, the widow of one of the slain officers.
“It’s disgraceful. This parole board needs to be fired,” PBA President Patrick Lynch said last month.
“We’re here to see that a new parole board will be put into place with new commissioners and that Herman Bell will be kept in prison,” Diane Piagentini had said.
Bell had previously been denied parole seven times.
In 1971, Bell and two others lured officers Joe Piagentini and Waverly Jones to a building in Harlem where they assassinated them.
Bell is serving a sentence of 25 years to life, but after nearly 45 years in prison and being denied parole seven times, was granted parole on Feb. 18, 2018.
For his part, Bell’s lawyer has said, “Mr. Bell has expressed remorse. While in prison, he has maintained an unblemished disciplinary record and become a mentor to younger prisoners, counseling them on leading a crime free life.”
NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill called the decision to release Bell “indefensible.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that while he disagreed with the decision, the parole board is independent and not under his control.
The PBA says it will appeal. It appears that Bell will remain in prison for at least one more week.