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Malcolm X’s assassin sues City of New York for $40 million

A man recently exonerated of his wrongful conviction for the assassination of civil rights icon Malcolm X has filed a lawsuit against the City of New York for $40 million.

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Man recently cleared of wrongly conviction in civil rights icon’s killing has filed a $40 million lawsuit against New York City for the city’s failure to protect his constitutional right to equal protection under the law.

Muhammad Aziz’s “wrongful conviction was the product of flagrant official misconduct, including, inter alia, by the NYPD and its intelligence unit, the Bureau of Special Services and Investigations,” according to the civil rights lawsuit filed in Brooklyn federal court on Thursday.

Other defendants include both known and anonymous city employees, many of whom were former NYPD detectives who were part of the original investigation

As stated in the lawsuit, “Aziz has spent more than 55 years dealing with the hardship and humiliation that come from being wrongfully branded as the murderer of one of the most important civil rights leaders in history.”

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New York County Supreme Court in November exonerated 84-year-old Aziz and the late Khalil Islam, both of whom were wrongly convicted of Malcolm X’s assassination in 1965.

Negotiations to resolve Aziz’s claim have stalled since his lawyer, David Shanies, submitted a notice of claim in December.

CNN contacted the city’s law department and Mayor Eric Adams’ office for comment, but did not receive a response immediately.

Aziz reached a $5 million settlement with New York State in April in a separate lawsuit, according to court documents.

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According to court documents, Islam’s family is also taking legal action on behalf of his estate against the State of New York and the City of New York with Shanies’ law firm.

In 1966, three men were found guilty of the murder of Malcolm X and sentenced to life in prison: Mujahid Abdul Halim (previously known as Talmadge Hayer and Thomas Hagan), Aziz, and Islam. Their innocence was asserted by both Aziz and Islam. One of the assassins, Halim admitted to taking part in the killing. He claimed the innocence of his two accomplices.

Both Aziz and Islam were released from prison in the 1980s and died in the late 1990s.

Ex-District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s office began a 22-month investigation in 2020 after being prompted by a Netflix documentary about the case. Lawyers for the two men and the Innocence Project said the investigation found that the FBI and the New York Police Department withheld crucial evidence that would have likely led to their acquittal at trial.

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At the exoneration hearing, Vance apologized for what he called a “decades-long injustice.”

Court: “I apologize for what were serious, unacceptable violations of law and public trust,” Vance said in court. As a representative of the nation’s law enforcement, I sincerely apologize for this long-standing injustice that has weakened public trust in the institutions tasked with guaranteeing equal protection under the law. Your honor, we can’t restore what was taken away from these men and their families, but by correcting the records, perhaps we can begin to restore that faith.”

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