NEW YORK: Muhammad Aziz, who suffered unfair jail time on charges of murdering Malcolm X, sued New York City on Thursday, seeking $40 million as reparations for notorious prosecution, denial of due process rights and government misconduct.
Then-Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance propelled new deliberations into the Malcolm X murder mystery in November 2021. He attempted to gather evidence that would absolve the convictions of Muhammad Aziz, 84 and co-defendant Khalil Islam.
Daniel Shanies, the representative of Aziz and Islam’s estate, said, “Muhammad Aziz and Khalil Islam were wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for decades- 42 years between them- as the result of outrageous government misconduct and violations of their constitutional rights.” He added, “Justice delayed for far too long is denied. Mr Aziz just turned 84, and Mr Islam tragically died before seeing his name cleared.”
Shanies also highlighted the “immense and irreparable” trauma and damage inflicted upon the convicts’ families. They demanded that “these men and their families should not be delayed compensation for the gross injustices they suffered.”
The lawsuit allegedly accused the NYPD and the Manhattan District Attorney’s office of “flagrant official misconduct,” including the suppression of exculpatory information. It also said, “A trial, a tremendous amount of evidence of Mr Aziz’s innocence- including documents and information from undercover officers and informants- was suppressed and hidden from the defence, from the court, and in many cases, from the prosecution.” In a statement issued on Thursday, New York City Mayor Eric Adams said his office is “reviewing the lawsuit.”
Talmadge Hayer, the assassin who confessed to the murder of Malcolm X and was apprehended at the scene, testified at the trial that Aziz and Islam were not involved in the crime. In the late 1970s, he signed an affidavit naming four other men allegedly involved in the murder’s planning and execution.
The case remained under wraps but gained momentum following the 2020 release of the hit Netflix documentary “Who Killed Malcolm X?”, revealing the details of the case by historian Abdur-Rahman Muhammad who spent decades investigating the killing.
Vance criticized law enforcement agencies that loosely handled the case and revealed that many details were hidden during the trial, like FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover ordering certain witnesses to hide their identity as FBI informants. He also apologized last year on behalf of law enforcement for “serious, unacceptable violations of law and the public trust.”
Along with the $40 million lawsuits filed now, Aziz and Islam filed two multi-million dollar civic lawsuits back in Dec. 2021 against the New York state government and said they intended to sue New York City.
Aziz opened up about his trauma in his first TV interview since his exoneration and said, “If God is on your side, it doesn’t matter who’s against you. God’s on my side.”