Exclusive! New Test Shows Key Witnesses Lied at Abu-Jamal Trial; Sidewalk Murder Scene Should Have Displayed Bullet Impacts
Further, this test reignites questions about how police handled and/or mishandled their investigation into the murder of Officer Faulkner, quickly targeting Abu-Jamal as the killer.
For example, police failed to administer the routine gunpowder residue test on Abu-Jamal’s hands to determine if he had recently fired a gun. Such a test has long been standard procedure for crimes involving gun shots. Oddly, police did perform this routine residue test on at least two persons initially suspected of being at the crime scene, including one man who fit the description of a man numerous eyewitnesses told police had shot Faulkner and then fled the scene. Police, finding a critically-wounded Abu-Jamal at the crime scene, arrested him immediately, but never bothered to do a test of his hands--or if they did, never reported the results.
While appellate courts – federal and state – have consistently upheld Abu-Jamal’s conviction, no court has considered the contradiction between prosecution claims of Abu-Jamal having fired into the sidewalk and the complete lack of any evidence of bullet impacts, or even of an explanation for the missing marks. Last week, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office curtly dismissed results of this test, which shows such marks would have been impossible to miss, as yet another instance of the “biases and misconceptions” regularly presented by persons who have not “taken the time to review the entirety of the record…”
For this experiment, veteran Philadelphia journalist Linn Washington, who has investigated the Abu-Jamal case since December 1981, obtained a Smith & Wesson revolver with a 2-inch barrel, similar to the 2-inch-barrel, .38-caliber Charter Arms revolver licensed to Abu-Jamal which was marked as evidence at the trial as being the weapon which was used to shoot and kill Officer Faulkner.
Meanwhile, journalist Dave Lindorff, who spent two years researching and writing Killing Time (Common Courage Press, 2003), the definitive independent book about this case, procured the concrete test slab, a 200-lb section of old sidewalk, about two feet square, five inches thick and containing a mix of gravel and a steel-reinforcing screen, that had recently been ripped up during construction of a new high school in Upper Dublin, PA. He then constructed a protective shield using a wooden frame and a section of galvanized, corrugated-steel roofing material purchased from Home Depot.
A small one-inch-diameter hole was drilled through the steel sheet about 18 inches from ground level, to enable Washington to point the pistol barrel through and fire at the concrete without risk of being injured by flying shrapnel or concrete fragments. Washington also wore shatter-proof military-surplus goggles for the experiment, so he could safely aim through the hole. During the test a total of seven bullets, including Plus-P high-velocity projectiles similar to the spent cartridges police reported finding in Abu-Jamal’s gun, were fired downward at the sidewalk slab from a standing position, replicating the prosecution’s version of the murder. (A Penn State history professor knowledgeable about firearms and ballistics including the construction of bullets, observed the experiment from start to finish.)
After each shot was fired into the concrete, the resulting impact point was labeled with a felt-tipped pen. Still photographs were taken showing all seven bullet impacts.