Civil Rights Attorney Ben Crump led a press conference in New York today to discuss new developments in the assassination of human rights activist Malcolm X that will allow the Shabazz family to reopen the case and seek further justice. The religious leader was murdered while addressing followers at a conference for the Organization of Afro-American Unity, an institution he founded, inside the Audubon Ballroom in Washington Heights, New York, on February 21, 1965.
Crump introduced a star witness, long-time Afro-American Unity member Mustafa Hassan (formerly known as Richard Melvin Jones) who was, according to a personal account and supported by photographic evidence, in the room when the religious leader was assassinated 58 years ago. Despite being a potential eyewitness, Hassan was never interviewed about the night’s events by police officers. This is the first time he has ever spoken publicly about his personal recollections of the night.
Hassan read a numbered affidavit that explained how he witnessed an explosion and then gunshots from his security post detail. “I saw a man running down the aisle towards the exit where I had been posted with a gun in his hand. I made the decision to attempt to stop this person because he had a gun in his hand and was headed directly toward me,” Hassan recounted. “I managed to knock this person down and I continued towards the stage where Malcolm X was lying on his back surrounded by his followers.” Hassan stated the identity of the man as Talmadge X Haye, a.k.a Thomas Hagen, a former member of the Nation of Islam who was convicted of assassinating Malcolm X in 1965.
Hassan went on to explain that as police suddenly arrived on the scene, they asked if Hagen–who was being beaten by Malcolm’s security detail–was with them and seemed to pull him out of the room, implying that Hagen could have been part of a bigger, governmental conspiracy to end Malcolm X’s life.
Joined by two of Malcolm’s daughters–Ilyasah and Quibilah Shabazz—and other legal counsel, Crump explained the purpose of revealing this evidence was to overcome the statute of limitations around the case through the exception of fraudulent concealment. “In fraudulent concealment, we must show that the defendants conceal the existence of a cause of action,” he declared. Since the police did not interview all possible witnesses to the shooting, they withheld information that could shed light on what really happened during Malcolm X’s assassination. The family intends to sue for damages using this rule.
In 2021, after a two-year reinvestigation, Muhammad Aziz and the late Khalil Islam, who were also convicted of Malcolm X’s murder, were exonerated after it was discovered that evidence was withheld that would have benefited their defense trials. In 2022, the city of New York agreed to pay $26 million to settle lawsuits filed on behalf of two men who were wrongly convicted of the murder.
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