By Dave Lindorff and Linn Washington
During the contentious 1982 murder trial of Philadelphia radio-journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, a central argument of the prosecution in making its case for the conviction and for imposition of a death penalty was the trial testimony of two key eyewitnesses who claimed to have actually seen Abu-Jamal fire his pistol repeatedly, at virtually point-blank range, into the prone Officer Daniel Faulkner.
This testimony about Abu-Jamal's shooting at the defenseless policeman execution-style solidified the prosecution's portrayal of Abu-Jamal as a cold-blooded assassin.
There was however, always the lingering question, never raised at trial, or even during the subsequent nearly three-decades-long appeals process, of why, if Abu-Jamal had fired four bullets downward at Faulkner, only hitting him once with a bullet between the eyes on the morning of December 9, 1981, there was no evidence in the surface of the sidewalk around the officer's body of the bullets that missed.
Now two independent journalists have raised further questions about that troubling lack of any evidence of missed shots by doing something that neither defense nor prosecution ever bothered to do, namely conducting a gun test using a similar gun and similar bullets fired from a similar distance into a slab of old concrete sidewalk similar to the sidewalk at the scene of the original shooting on the south side of Locust Street just east of 13th Street in Center City, Philadelphia.
Their test conclusively demonstrated it is impossible to fire such a gun from a standing position into a sidewalk without the bullets leaving prominent, unambiguous and clearly visible marks. Yet, the prosecution's case has Abu-Jamal performing that exact miracle, missing the officer three times without leaving a trace of his bad marksmanship. So where are the missing bullet marks? The police crime-scene photos presented by the prosecution don't show any, and police investigators in their reports don't mention any bullet marks on the sidewalk around the slain officer's body....
For the rest of this article including photographs of the gun test results, and of the NASA JPL scientist's analysis of the crime scene photo, please go to: ThisCantBeHappening!
DAVE LINDORFF is an award-winning veteran investigative journalist, a 1975 graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and is author of Killing Time: An Investigation into the Death Penalty Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal (Common Courage Press, 2003) and three other books. He is also a founding member of the online newspaper ThisCantBeHappening! (www.thiscantbehappening.net)
LINN WASHINGTON, a professor of journalism at Temple University, is a veteran Philadelphia investigative reporter who has followed the Abu-Jamal case since the morning of the incident, when he heard about it on a morning news report and went over to cover the story. A Yale Law Fellowship graduate, Washington is a regular columnist for the Philadelphia Tribune, and is also a founding member of the online newspaper ThisCantBeHappening!