Patrolman Joseph A. Piagentini

Patrolman Joseph A. Piagentini

New York City Police Department, New York

End of Watch Friday, May 21, 1971

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Joseph A. Piagentini

Patrolmen Joseph Piagentini and Waverly Jones were shot and killed while on foot patrol in the Colonial Park Houses public housing complex, at 159th Street and Harlem River Drive. They were ambushed by members of the Black Liberation Army.

As the two patrolmen were returning to their cruiser at approximately 10:00 pm, three suspects snuck up behind them and opened fire. Patrolman Jones was struck in the back of the head and killed instantly. Patrolman Piagentini was shot 13 times and succumbed to his injuries en route to the hospital.

One of the suspects stole Patrolman Jones' weapon which was later recovered in San Francisco, California after several BLA members opened fire on a San Francisco, police officer.

Two of the suspects, along with five others, were also involved in the murder of Sergeant John Victor Young of the San Francisco Police Department on August 29th, 1971.

The three suspects were arrested and sentenced to 25 years to life. One of the suspects died in prison. One remains in prison, and the third was granted parole in March 2018.

Patrolman Piagentini had served with the New York City Police Department for five years and was assigned to the 32nd Precinct. He was survived by his wife and two daughters.

The Black Liberation Army was a violent, radical group that attempted to fight for independence from the United States government in the late 1960's and early 1970's. The BLA was responsible for the murders of more than 10 police officers around the country. They were also responsible for violent attacks around the country that left many police officers wounded.

Bio

  • Age 28
  • Tour 5 years
  • Badge 8288

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Gun; Unknown type
  • Offender Convicted of murder

ambush

Most Recent Reflection

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Grandchildren of slain NYPD cop help dedicate playground in his memory
POSTED 1:30 PM, OCTOBER 5, 2019, BY MARY MURPHY. WPIX NEWS

DEER PARK, N.Y. — NYPD Patrolman Joseph Piagentini was only 28 years old when he was brutally slain with his police partner Waverly Jones in 1971 by members of the Black Liberation Army group.

Though 48 years have passed, Piagentini’s basketball hoop is still affixed over the family’s garage door in Deer Park, Long Island.

That was just one memory his widow, Diane Piagentini, shared during the dedication of a playground in her late husband’s memory — not far from the home where she raised two daughters, Mary and Deborah.

She explained why there’s a plaque on the playground’s bench that says, “Because I love you.”

Diane Piagentini told a gathering that included Rep. Peter King and PBA President Patrick Lynch that she had given her young husband a watch when they married, engraved on the back with the sentiment, “because I love you.”

“When you take your children to a playground… you remind them, it’s ‘because I love you,’” Piagentini added.

“Or when you give them a time out, you let them know, it’s ‘because I love you.’”

Piagentini’s daughters and two grandchildren, Aiden and Anastasia, helped the family dedicate the new playground at Fabio Buttitta Memorial Park on Saturday morning.

An NYPD Honor Guard, along with the Emerald Society Pipes and Drums, joined other police widows and retired members of the service to pay their respects.

“Wow. That’s all I can say,” Piagentini marveled, as she surveyed the crowd.

Her husband has been dead nearly half a century, but the double murder case of Piagentini and his partner recently returned to the headlines last year when one of the convicted killers, Herman Bell, was paroled after 45 years in prison.

Later in 2018, a different group of parole board members refused to release the final shooter who remains in prison, Anthony Bottom, now known as Jalil Abdul Mutaqim.

Piagentini told PIX11 she was happy to have something to smile about at the playground dedication.

“My husband was very close with children. He was a gentle man. He loved kids. He played basketball with the neighborhood children,” she said.

Retired Police Officer
NYPD

October 5, 2019

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