Patrolman Joseph A. Piagentini

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Patrolman Joseph A. Piagentini

New York City Police Department, New York

End of Watch Friday, May 21, 1971

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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You were our neighbor on the other end of 159th. We had moved into the Babuskin House on the corner, next to the Demolas. When we lived further up the block with the big garden, I used to pass and look at your collies. It was a neighborhood, and we all passed pleasantries. This is beyond a disgrace, a pure travesty of justice. Your son, husband and brother died trying to make NYC a safer, better place for all. The parole board needs to be censured, then removed. This unremorseful killer is enjoying whatever time he has, the time denied Joseph. May Joseph continue in God's love, and may judgement fall on the other. Sorry for their re-opening this wound and adding to your pain.

Bebe Scarpinato
former neighbor

April 28, 2018

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