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Indybay Feature
Journalists for Mumia: "Billy Cook's Forgotten Trial"
by Michael Schiffmann
Thursday Jul 12th, 2007 10:31 PM
Very little has been written about the trial of Mumia Abu-Jamal’s brother Billy Cook, who was charged with aggravated assault, stemming from that fateful Dec. 9, 1981 morning. In this new essay by German author Michael Schiffmann, the DA’s flimsy case against Abu-Jamal is even further exposed.
Very little has been written about the trial of Mumia Abu-Jamal’s brother Billy Cook, who was charged with aggravated assault, stemming from that fateful Dec. 9, 1981 morning. In this new essay by German author Michael Schiffmann, the DA’s flimsy case against Abu-Jamal is even further exposed.

This new article is presented by “Journalists for Mumia Abu-Jamal” to publicize and raise money for printing the next issue of our newspaper, “Abu-Jamal News.” Our first issue was released in April, just weeks prior to Abu-Jamal’s crucial May 17 oral arguments before the federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

The week of the oral arguments, Journalists for Mumia unveiled explosive new crime scene photos (never before published in the US) that prove police manipulation of evidence at the scene. The photos were printed on thousands of large posters and posted for viewing on our new website: Abu-Jamal-News.com.

While we are still trying to make our money back from these posters, we are now actively fundraising for the printing of our second issue. The 10,000 copies of our first issue were depleted far too quickly, and we are now hoping to print 30,000 copies of issue #2. Every little bit helps, so please consider donating money to help with the printing costs. All labor is donated, meaning that every penny will go towards printing costs, and a fraction going towards postage for our distribution.

DONATIONS CAN BE MADE with a credit card directly on our website via Pay Pal:

http://www.abu-jamal-news.com/about.html#donate

Or, checks can be made out to “Hans Bennett” and mailed to:
Journalists for Mumia, PO Box 30770, Philadelphia, PA 19104

Challenging the long-tradition of mainstream media bias against Abu-Jamal, “Journalists for Mumia” provides independent, non-sectarian news about the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal.

We appreciate your consideration of this crucial financial support for our “all-volunteer labor” newspaper, and hope you enjoy this excellent new article about Billy Cook’s trial.

Best Regards,

Journalists for Mumia co-founders

Hans Bennett (hbjournalist [at] gmail.com)
Michael Schiffmann (mikschiff [at] t-online.de)

http://www.Abu-Jamal-News.com

SUPPORT FOR JOURNALISTS FOR MUMIA (ABU-JAMAL-NEWS.COM)

“This excellent new website and newspaper, Abu-Jamal News, is informative and easy to read. I’ve been giving newspapers to all different types of people, and they keep coming back for more to share with their friends. Please support their important work.”
--Pam Africa, coordinator of The Intl. Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal.

“In the spirit of Mumia Abu-Jamal and the type of journalism that makes him who he is, we must support honest and sincere journals like Abu-Jamal News.”
--Ramona Africa, Minister of Communication of The MOVE Organization and the sole adult survivor of the May 13, 1985 bombing of MOVE headquarters.

“Abu-Jamal News has been a wonderful new addition to the movement to free Mumia. With up-to-date articles and pictures from a wide range of sources, it has helped provide activists with the information tools necessary for our work.”
--Suzanne Ross, Co-chair, Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (NYC)

"When I am looking for the latest and the most in-depth information about Mumia Abu-Jamal's case, I read Abu-Jamal News."
--Noelle Hanrahan, award winning investigative journalist and director of Prison Radio.

-----------------------------------

Billy Cook’s Forgotten Trial: Spurious Witnesses, Impossible Events
--What the “eyewitness” testimony from Billy Cook’s March 29, 1982 trial for aggravated assault reveals
By Michael Schiffmann


View the PDF version with numerous graphics:
http://abu-jamal-news.com/docs/BCwebsite.pdf


Just as in the much more famous case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, it all started in the cold winter night of December 9, 1981.

Actually, the early morning post-traffic stop altercation between William Cook and Police Officer Daniel Faulkner on that day triggered the fateful events that were to come after it and resulted in the officers death.

On December 9, 1981, shortly after 3:50 AM, Mumia Abu-Jamal’s youngest brother William – or “Billy,” as he was generally called – Cook was driving his VW in Eastern direction on Locust Street in Philadelphia’s Center City, then a red light district where all sorts of semi-legal and illegal good such as sex, drugs, and other services circulated.

After he had passed Juniper, a tiny street crossing Locust between Broad Street and 13th Street, and reached the traffic light at the intersection of 13th and Locust, he was pulled to the side by a police car.1 The police car put its dome lights on and followed the VW to a spot on the South side of Locust Street right in front of 1234 Locust, where both cars stopped.2


The First Report of the Shooting: Michael Scanlan

The next thing we know is that at 3:51:08, Officer Faulkner made a call on the police radio:

RPC [Faulkner]: 612.
Radio: 12.
Faulkner: I have a car stopped – ah – 12, 13th and Locust.
Radio: Car to back 612, 13th and Locust.
Faulkner: On second thought, send me a wagon, 1234 Locust.
Radio: 601.
EPW: Yeah [6]01 okay, 1234 Locust.3

According to an analysis of the tape of the police radio carried out in 1999, the dialogue between Faulkner and dispatcher Reginald Thomson took about 13-15 seconds to complete.4 19 seconds after the original call, at 3:51:27, Emergency Patrol Wagon (EPW) 601 of Officers Steven Trombetta and Gary Wakshul5 was assigned for backup, following Faulkner’s call for a wagon.6

Exactly one minute later, at 3:52:27, Wakshul and Trombetta, who for unexplained reasons still had not left their original location at the intersection of Juniper and Walnut Street to provide backup for Faulkner, were on the radio again, with very bad news for the dispatcher: “We just got information from a passerby, there’s a policeman shot, I think it sounds like it was at 12[th].”7 Uncontested testimony before and at Mumia Abu-Jamal’s June/July 1982 trial shows that the “passerby” they were talking about was a motorist called Michael Scanlan8 who had traveled three blocks with his Ford Thunderbird9 in order to look for help from the police. Given the time he needed for that distance and the time it took the officers to get on the radio, the events this witness later claimed to have observed in gruesome detail cannot have taken place later than 3:52, i.e. some 35 seconds after Faulkner completed his radio call for backup by requesting a van.

Whatever the exact time was, the first witness to the events, Michael Scanlan, was to play a pivotal role at the respective trials of both Billy Cook and his brother Mumia Abu-Jamal.


Still Mysterious: The Reasons for the Traffic Stop

But before we analyze Scanlan’s role and, even more importantly, the role played by the other main prosecution witness at Billy Cook’s March 29, 1982 trial for “Aggravated Assault,” we should wind back to the beginning in order to shed some light on an additional question.

Why was Mumia Abu-Jamal’s brother Billy Cook stopped by Officer Faulkner in the first place? There have been many reports in the past claiming that Cook approached the scene by driving in Southern direction on 13th Street, and was stopped for driving the wrong way on a one-way street when he reached the intersection of 13th and Locust.10

But judging from both the trial of Cook and the one of Abu-Jamal, there is no evidence for this, and the claim appears to be based on early press reports, which in turn appear to be based on a misinterpretation by police press speakers of the police radio tapes. According to the transcript of the tapes, a security guard at 13th and Walnut Street had seen “a small compact auto heading in the wrong direction, south on 13th from [sic, should read towards] Locust,” but that guard could name neither the type nor the color of the car, and of course much less the role it might have played in the events.11

That Cook was not stopped for driving the wrong way on 13th Street is also strongly supported by the fact that at Cook’s trial prosecutor Joseph McGill, the same Assistant District Attorney (ADA) who would just a little more than two months later play that very same role at Mumia Abu-Jamal’s trial, never charged Cook with that particular traffic violation.

Rather, McGill speculated that the reason for the stop had been the damaged wooden front and rear bumpers of Cook’s VW and the license plate of the car that was hanging on a slant.12 Why a police officer who was alone in his car would take the trouble to look into this during the dead of the night, ADA McGill did not say. At any rate, Judge Meyer Rose of the Municipal Court of Philadelphia, before whom the case was tried, finally declared the question irrelevant.13

So perhaps – pending any testimony from Billy Cook – we will never know. Be that as it may, what was important that night was not the traffic stop itself but the events that ensued, namely, an altercation involving Billy Cook and Officer Faulkner, the death of the officer, and the severe wounding of and the murder charge against Mumia Abu-Jamal. The first time these events were dealt with before a court was Billy Cooks trial for “Aggravated Assault.”

At that trial, the state’s contention was that Billy Cook had started it all through resisting Faulkner’s attempt to arrest him by punching him in the face. The officer, so the theory went, reacted by beating Billy with his police flashlight, upon which Abu-Jamal who was parked nearby with his taxicab, approached the scene, shot the officer in the back, straddled the officer who had fallen on his back on the sidewalk in front of 1234 Locust and shot him execution-style at point blank range, managing to get near-mortally wounded by a shot from the officer’s gun somewhere in between all this.14


Two Witnesses in Two Trials

At Abu-Jamal’s June/July 1982 murder trial, of the three prosecution witnesses who claimed to have seen how the deadly bullet was pumped into Faulkner’s brain, two claimed to have seen the sequence of events from beginning to end.15

These two were Michael Scanlan, the motorist I already mentioned above, and a young black prostitute, Cynthia White, who used to work in the Center City area around 13th and Locust.

Since Scanlan, despite his claim to have observed it all for more than a half minute, wasn’t able to identify the shooter, and the third of the just mentioned prosecution witnesses at the Abu-Jamal trial, Robert Chobert, didn’t have anything to say about how the events started, in a sense Cynthia White was the star witness of the prosecution against both Billy Cook and Mumia Abu-Jamal.

From that angle, it was not surprising that after a preliminary questioning of Officers Reginald Thompson16 and James Forbes,17 the first core witness the prosecution called to testify was that very same Cynthia White. And a remarkable witness that woman turned out to be, even though at the time, this largely if not completely escaped the public’s attention.


Enter Cynthia White

With hindsight, even some of the first lines of the dialogue between prosecutor McGill and White were highly problematic for the prosecution, whose murder case against Abu-Jamal had always been based on the presupposition that only three persons were present at the scene: Faulkner, Abu-Jamal, and Cook:18

White: And the police got out of the police car and walked over to the Volkswagen. And he didn’t get all the way to the Volkswagen, and the driver of the Volkswagen was passing some words. He had walked around between the two doors, walked up to the sidewalk.
McGill: Who walked?
White: The passenger – the driver. The driver and the police officer.
McGill: When the officer went up to the car, which side of the car did the officer go up to?
White: A. The driver side.
McGill: The driver side?
White: Yes.
McGill: What did the passenger do?
White: He had got out.
McGill: What did the driver do?
White: He got out of the car.
McGill: He got out of the car?
White: Yes.19

Now the language of this dialogue seems to point pretty clearly to the presence of yet another person at the scene, namely, a passenger in Billy Cook’s VW. For one thing, the driver of a car and the passenger of a car are notions that are hard to confuse, but that is not all: White also says that the driver “got out of the car,” while the passenger “had got out of the car,” which once again points to the driver and the passenger as being two distinct persons.

It is highly interesting in this regard that ADA McGill, who posed many questions to Cynthia White during this trial that were aimed at clarifying this, that, or the other thing, didn’t ask her the very simple question, “Why are you suddenly talking about a passenger in the car when all your previous statements only mention the presence of a driver?” At least one possible answer to that puzzle is that McGill may have been afraid to get the wrong response.

Unfortunately, Cook’s defense lawyer Daniel Alva, who in general did a commendable job throughout the trial, in this instance also didn’t pursue the matter, and so we may never know what White’s answer would have been had she been questioned about the issue. All the same, White’s allusion to the presence of a driver and a passenger remains suspicious with regard to both the factual question of how many persons were present20 and the ethics of prosecutor McGill whose theory that only three persons had been present had just been called into doubt by the testimony of his own witness but who chose to ignore the problem instead of addressing it squarely.

How Cynthia White Claimed It Began

Dubious as this first statement by Cynthia White already was, we will see that during the process of the trial the dubiousness of her statements multiplied. But before we can go into this, we must first summarize the rest of the testimony White gave during the direct examination by ADA McGill.

After the dialogue between her and the prosecutor, White was shown the a police photograph marked as C-2,21 showing Billy’s VW and Officer Faulkner’s police cruiser, apparently the one reproduced above (and several times below), and was asked to describe the further turn of events. According to White, after exiting their cars, Faulkner and Cook were “passing some words, talking, and walked around in between the Volkswagen and the police car onto the sidewalk,” and at some point Cook “turned around an hit the police officer,” 22 whereupon the officer spun his attacker “around in a position to handcuff him.”23

With Billy Cook now being effectively neutralized, according to White a third person sprang into action. Upon McGill’s question “Did you see anything else happen?” she answered:

Yes, I drew my attention across the street to where the parking lot is, and I noticed a guy on the parking lot in and over to the side where the police was, fired a shot into the back of the police officer.24

“The guy on the parking lot” was of course supposed to be Mumia Abu-Jamal, against whom White would testify in his own June/July 1982 murder trial.25


A Witness with a “Record”

After this presentation of the events by ADA McGill via the first of his two alleged eyewitnesses, Billy Cook’s defense lawyer Daniel Alva subjected White to a long and grueling cross examination.26 First of all, over the adamant objections of the prosecution, Alva established that at the time of Billy Cook’s March 29, 1982 trial, White had been arrested 38 times for prostitution.27

White’s profession as a prostitute should of course normally have been as irrelevant to her testimony as a witness to an assault – and later on a murder – case as if she had been a waitress or a parking lot attendant or whatever. But it clearly wasn’t. Due for the most part to the monstrous criminal laws applied at that time against sex workers of any kind, prostitutes – not only in Philadelphia, but in the whole region as well – were continuously subjected to vicious forms of harassment, blackmail, arrest, and long prison sentences for the “crime” of prostitution.28

In White’s case, Alva showed that White had first been arrested for prostitution on May 3, 1980,29 had never been able to stay out of trouble with the police for more than on and a half month until December 17, 1981,30 and after that hadn’t been arrested a single time until the Billy Cook trial took place, i.e., March 29, 1982.31

The importance of this with regard to the Billy Cook assault case was that December 17, 1981 also happened to be the first time that Cynthia White told the police that Billy Cook initiated the whole series of fateful events that ended with the death of Daniel Faulkner by hitting the officer. But neither in her allegedly voluntary statement to the police immediately after the December 9 shootout32 nor in the statement she gave when arrested for prostitution for the 37th time on December 12, 198133 had she mentioned anything of the sort!

Now one should think that the triggering act that set into motion everything that followed would not be consigned to the memory hole as an insignificant detail by someone who had just watched the whole sequence shortly before. What came across very clearly in Alva’s cross examination was how vulnerable a witness White was – actually one of the four open cases for prostitution White still had on March 29, 1982 stemmed from no other date than her second-to-last arrest on December 12, 1981.34

The suspicions aroused by all this were succinctly summarized by Alva when he asked White the rhetorical question: “As soon as you told them [the police] what you thought they wanted to hear, you knew you were okay out there [working as a prostitute], isn’t that right?”35


Cynthia White’s Bizarre Narrative

Whereas the evolution of White’s testimony between December 9 and December 17, 1981, was certainly suspicious, crucial aspects of her trial description of the sequence of events from Faulkner hauling Cook over to the side of the road to Faulkner allegedly getting shot by Abu-Jamal were definitely bizarre.

Under cross examination by Alva, White described a situation where Faulkner and Cook in the gap between the VW and the police car “walked to the sidewalk” and then walked in a “direction that brought them closer” to White. The police officer was then “turned toward 12th Street, and the other guy [Billy Cook] was turned like toward him.”36 Asked by Judge Rose “to go into the matter geometrically,”37 Alva got White to state the respective positions of Cook and Faulkner more precisely, and according to White, they were facing each other in such a way White could see “the left profile of the officer,”38 who would then have had to have been turned, not exactly towards 12th Street but also at some angle towards the Northern side of Locust.

All the same, White claimed she “could see the blows [sic] strike the right side” of Faulkner’s face from where she was standing, insisting that she saw “the driver’s fist hitting the officer’s face,”39 something which was plainly impossible since she had just stated that she had seen the left, and not the right side of the officer’s profile.

At least as interesting as what White claimed she had been able to see was what she said she didn’t see. It is a well-documented fact that Billy Cook was beaten bloody that night and was photographed by the police with “an injury above the left ear … and behind the ear,” which left him bleeding profusely enough for the blood to still be seen on the police photograph,40 but one of the few points in her continuously changing testimony with regard to the Faulkner killing White was adamant about was that she never saw Officer Faulkner strike Cook, paralleling her equally adamant statement that she never saw Faulkner shoot Abu Jamal,41 a fact that is materially documented by the bullet found near Abu-Jamal’s spine and fired from the officer’s gun.

But by far the most bizarre piece of White’s testimony was her description of the shooting of Officer Faulkner. For at least once, White managed to stick with one version of the events, but unfortunately, this version was consistent only in that it was absurd. Starting out with the configuration described above – Faulkner facing, half 12th Street, half the Northern side of Locust – White continued with an account about noticing “the other guy run out of the parking lot.” After she had explained that she had shifted her attention from Faulkner and Cook to this newcomer to the scene, the following dialogue between her and Alva ensued:

Alva: What happened then?
White: He came up to almost the curb, and he fired a shot into the officer’s back.
Alva: How far was he from the officer when he did that?
White: A couple of inches.
[…]
Alva: The officer was on the sidewalk; is that right?
White: Yes.
Alva: And the man was in the street, is that right?
White: Yes.
Alva: Was the officer on the curb?
White: The sidewalk.42

On the assumption that Faulkner was still in the position that White had described earlier, none of this made any sense since there was just no way how Abu-Jamal, coming from the parking lot and still being in the street, could somehow reach around Faulkner in order to shoot him in the back, but White remained steadfast:

Alva: He was on the sidewalk, so it would have been more than a couple of inches, wouldn’t it, madam?
White: No.43

At this point, Alva let go during his cross examination, but he came back to it witheringly during his recross examination shortly afterwards. After having systematically established that according to White, Officer Faulkner had indeed been standing on the sidewalk in front of Locust 1234, facing in an approximately Northeastern direction, he proceeded to destroy White’s credibility completely:

Alva: You testified that the officer was standing in this direction, is that correct?
White: Yes.
Alva: And this man came around across the street. Now you are pointing in a more general direction but still to your left; is that right? Wherever he came from, it was the direction from your left; isn’t that right?
White: No.
I said he ran in the back toward the police and shot him in the back.44
Alva: In the back. Isn’t it a fact that to have shot the officer in the back, and to have come from the direction across the street from you, that the officer was this side facing the defendant with his right side to you, and he then got shot in the back? Does that refresh your recollection that the officer must have been standing like this at the time when he got shot in the back?
White: No.
Alva: That’s not the way it happened?
White: No.45

Taken together, the cross examination and the recross examination dialogues between Alva and White amounted to the claim that what went down on December 9, 1981, was the following: (1) Shortly after 3:51, Billy Cook was stopped by Officer Faulkner right in front of 1234 Locust; (2) Billy Cook, who was considerably shorter and lighter than the officer and confronted him alone, struck him right in the face; (3) She didn’t see how Cook was beaten by Faulkner, even though according to her own claims she was only about two car lengths away;46 and finally, (4) Faulkner was facing Northeast (see blue arrow) when he was shot in the back by Abu-Jamal, and the latter got into his back by approaching him “at an angle” (see footnote 45), i.e., passing through the gap between Billy Cook’s VW and Faulkner’s police car., running past Faulkner, circling him in what is actually more than a U-turn (since as a right-hander such as Abu-Jamal would have had to have traveled an even greater “angle” to do that than a left-hander) – and all this without Faulkner taking countermeasures or even noticing.

For his part, attorney Alva apparently thought the court had heard enough of this witness. He had brought out her record of 36 arrests between May 3, 1980, and December 9, and 2 arrests within the 8 days from December 9 to December 17 alone, and then NO arrest at all after she told the cops that tiny insignificant detail that Billy Cook had started the whole tragic series of events by hitting Officer Faulkner in the face. After the fantastic tale White had just told with regard to the main event, the shooting of the police officer, Alva could now be quite confident to also have aroused some healthy skepticism about her testimony concerning Billy Cook, and accordingly, he stopped at this point: “I have no further questions.”47


Enter Robert Scanlan

The next eyewitness the prosecution presented was none other than the person who apparently first reported the shooting of officer Faulkner to the police, namely, motorist Michael Mark Scanlan. He has been described as “the prosecution’s most reliable fact witness” with regard to the June/July 1982 Abu-Jamal trial,48 and if that is true, his testimony at the Billy Cook trial should not be dismissed easily.

According to Scanlan’s testimony during direct examination by ADA McGill, he “was at the intersection of 13th and Locust” with his car when he “noticed a policeman with a gentleman in front of a Volkswagen talking.” According to Scanlan, then “the police officer told the man to turn around and spread eagle in front of the Volkswagen. As soon as the man spread eagle[d] in front of the Volkswagen, he turned around and struck the officer in the face. The officer then reacted by trying to subdue him, by striking the man a couple of times in the shoulder.”49

This was quite obviously very different from what White had testified, who had placed the confrontation between Cook and Faulkner on the sidewalk in front of 1234 Locust, somewhere in between Cook’s VW and Faulkner’s car, but closer to the police car, i.e., in White’s direction (see orange marking in the photo below).50


But there were other inconsistencies as well. Whereas White had Faulkner facing in a roughly Northeastern direction when the altercation (and subsequent shot into Faulkner’s back) took place, Scanlan had it almost exactly the other way round in claiming that Faulkner faced West!

But the fact that Scanlan had the officer stand behind the spread-eagled Billy Cook and thus facing West posed other problems as well, namely with regard to the relative positions of Cook and the officer, and to the blow the latter allegedly suffered from Cook.

According to Scanlan, Billy Cook, far from standing face to face with Faulkner as White had claimed, lay spread-eagled on the hood of his own VW when he decided to blindly whirl around and strike Officer Faulkner “between the temple and the cheekbone on the right side of his face” with his right hand.51 And if Cook had indeed used his right hand to strike the officer in this daring manner, this once again ran up against White’s account, for how could Cook, if he was standing right in front of the officer, also strike the right side of Faulkner’s face, and with considerable force at that?52

Apart from these contradictions between White and him – another one was that Scanlan testified that he did see Faulkner beat Cook with “a billy club, a flashlight, or something,”53 while White denied having seen the officer react to Cook – it was hard to understand how Scanlan, given the position of his car,54 could have seen past Faulkner’s police cruiser and Billy Cook’s VW exactly what Faulkner and Cook were doing right in front of the VW, which as we will see in a moment is exactly where Scanlan repeatedly insisted they had been.

Another Bizarre Tale

Even stranger than these glaring contradictions to White’s testimony was Scanlan’s own account of how Officer Faulkner was shot in the back, presumably by a man he couldn’t identify55 but who came out of the parking lot.

Both during his direct examination by ADA McGill and his cross examination by defense attorney Alva, Scanlan clearly indicated Faulkner’s and Cook’s respective locations from the time Faulkner spread-eagled Cook until he was shot in the back: The whole sequence of events took place in front of the VW where Cook was facing the front hood of his VW and Faulkner standing right behind him, first being hit by him and then in turn beating him with his police flashlight56 in order to subdue and maybe arrest him.

Shown the same police photograph that was shown to White, and asked by McGill, “So the incident took place around the Volkswagen,” Scanlan responded: “No, in front of the Volkswagen.”57

While being cross-examined by Alva, Scanlan once again placed the quarrel between Cook and Faulkner repeatedly “in front of the Volkswagen,” with “the policeman … facing me.”58 Even more importantly, describing the start of the shooting, he still placed the two men in front of Cook’s VW. Alva then asked whether Scanlan saw “the man that came running out of the parking lot” squarely to his left or at an angle, which resulted in the following dialogue:

Scanlan: At an angle.
Alva: And you saw him coming, running out of the parking lot and do what, sir?
Scanlan: He came running over to where the officer and the other man were in front of the car.
Alva: In the street?
Scanlan: In the street, yes. A little bit in front of the Volkswagen, but still at an angle. I saw the arm go up like that, and the crack.59

It is clear that the last question by Alva refers to Abu-Jamal and not to either Cook or Faulkner. Alva had posed the question whether they were in the street or on the sidewalk long before in order to bring out contradictions between Scanlan’s an White’s testimony, and indeed Scanlan had stated unequivocally60 that the Cook/Faulkner altercation had taken place in the street, not on the sidewalk as White had claimed.

With the “still at an angle” bit obviously also referring to Abu-Jamal, we get the following description of the beginning of the shooting sketched in the photo on p. 10: (1) After being stopped by P.O. Faulkner, Cook was spread-eagled by the officer on the hood of his VW; (2) he decided to blindly strike at the officer by trying a backward swing; (3) the officer pulled out some club-like instrument – actually a flashlight, see footnote 57 – and started to beat Cook; and (4) Abu-Jamal approached the scene from the parking lot and shot at the officer, but decided to do so not in the most direct and natural way, but once again – paralleling White’s account – by first getting in the back of the officer, which required somehow getting behind Faulkner in the narrow space left by Billy Cook and Officer Faulkner in between Cook’s VW and the Ford parked in front of it!

But the rest of Scanlan’s account of how Officer Faulkner got killed is just as strange. Even though according to him the officer was in the street when he was shot, he next

fell down on the sidewalk, and was laying there when the gentleman walked over with the pistol, and fired two times, striking the officer. I noticed he hit the officer with the – I noticed the bullet hit the officer, because his body jerked.61

The jerking body was, however, not the only detail Scanlan claimed to have been able to observe from behind his windshield, in the middle of the night, and from a distance of about 30 yards.62 Specifically denying that the police vehicle and the VW might have blocked his view, Scanlan insisted that he “had a direct view of where the Officer fell. I could see him from head to toe. He fell on the sidewalk.63 During direct examination, Scanlan was even positive that he saw Officer Faulkner being struck in the face “between the temple and the cheekbone on the right side.”64

Scanlan’s claim that he could see exactly where in his face Faulkner was struck hardly deserves discussion. But more importantly, given Scanlan’s position, a triangle covering almost half of the sidewalk area stretching from the back of Faulkner’s police car to the location where Faulkner’s head finally came to lie65 would have been in a blind angle – and all available facts indicate that Faulkner was found inside, not outside that blind angle.66

Furthermore, no discussion of what Scanlan might have been able to see would be complete without mentioning an alleged eyewitness who did not figure at all in the Billy Cook trial, namely, the second most important prosecution witness Robert Chobert. This witness claimed to have been parked with his cab right behind Officer Faulkner’s police car and to have observed from there how Abu-Jamal literally executed Faulkner.67

While a conclusive – as opposed to only likely – demonstration of the fact that Scanlan’s view toward the prone Faulkner was blocked by Cook’s VW and Faulkner’s police car has to await a professional crime scene investigation (CSI), replaying the events with the actual cars and precisely the actual distances and whatever, future tasks either in the context of a new trial or in case Abu-Jamal is denied this venue of legal redress, no such thing is even necessary with regard to Robert Chobert’s taxicab. Had Chobert’s cab been where he later was to claim it was, Scanlan for one thing most likely wouldn’t have been able to see anything of whatever happened on the sidewalk – but surely nothing that happened on the ground, with P.O. Faulkner “jerking,” or being hit, wherever, in the face.

With regard to Scanlan and Chobert, there are thus only two possibilities: Either Chobert was indeed, as he claimed, parked behind Officer Faulkner’s police car, and then all accounts by Scanlan about Faulkner’s body jerking and his face being hit by the shot of the killer were sheer fantasy, or Chobert was NOT there even though he was one of two key witnesses against Abu-Jamal, which would be evidence of monumental prosecutorial misconduct since in that case his testimony about how he saw Abu-Jamal fire the deadly shot into Faulkner’s face could only have been the result of massive fakery.


The “Chinese Menu”

This is not the place to go into the many more contradictions in Michael Scanlan’s various accounts between December 9 and the Summer 1982 Abu-Jamal murder trial.68 That his – and White’s, and Chobert’s – description of the shots that killed the officer cannot be true has already been demonstrated elsewhere.69

Both main witnesses at the Cook trial, Cynthia White and Michael Scanlan, went on to play a pivotal role in the trial about the core event of December 9, 1982, the killing of Police Officer Faulkner that lead to the death sentence of Mumia Abu-Jamal for murder in the first degree. But this core event, of course, was not yet what was at issue.

The important point with regard to the killing of Officer Faulkner and the murder charge against Mumia Abu-Jamal is what a close analysis of the March 29, 1982 trial of Billy Cook shows: Adding the accounts of the only two alleged eyewitnesses to both the altercation between Cook and Faulkner and the ensuing killing of the officer, we find that they are

(1) in flat contradiction which each other, and
(2) squarely impossible in themselves.

Point (1) in particular was of course also not lost on Cook’s defense attorney Daniel Alva, who at the end of his cross-examination of Scanlan made a demurrer to the charge of aggravated assault and resisting arrest against his client in which he started to bring out the glaring contradictions between Scanlan’s and White’s account.70 This demurrer was focused on both the question whether Cook could be accused of resisting arrest at all – Alva argued that there was no concrete evidence that his client really was arrested at any time during the events –71 and the question how he could be convicted of assault if the testimony of the witnesses was so contradictory, and with one of the witnesses, Scanlan, not even being able to identify the defendant.72 But Judge Meyer Rose denied the demurrer, and Alva went on to make his final summation:

Judge, what you have been handed is very similar to a Chinese menu. The District Attorney wants you to choose one from column A and one from column B, and to come back with a verdict.
Now Mr. McGill said in his argument at the demurrer stage that he wanted you to accept everything [White and Scanlan said].73 But Your Honor, you could not accept everything, because to do so would leave you in such a befuddle, because the stories are diametrically opposed. There is no one who listened to that evidence that was presented by Miss White and Mr. Scanlan that can reconcile the differences in them. The only similarity is that they involve a police officer and a male. Beyond that there is no similarity whatsoever.74

Of course there was another similarity, namely, that both White and Scanlan claimed that a man struck Officer Faulkner, even though their description of that event differed radically. But beyond that, Alva delivered a scathing critique of ADA McGill’s methodology of picking one single point of what one witness said while disregarding all the rest (column A), and adding it to an entirely different story that lacked that crucial point (column B), merely to get a conviction at any cost: “Your Honor, you can’t just take the identification of Cynthia White, and the substantive story of Mr. Scanlan, and put them together to equal C.”75

Unfortunately, this is what the court finally ended up doing, because less than a half hour later, Judge Meyer Rose found “the defendant …, Mr. Cook, guilty of the two crimes, aggravated assault and resisting law enforcement,”76 on exactly the logic Alva had so trenchantly criticized.

What was true for White’s and Scanlan’s descriptions of Cook’s alleged assault was of course also true of their descriptions of the Faulkner killing. With regard to the latter, one of the witnesses McGill had on offer was demonstrably vulnerable to police pressure and her account raised more questions than it answered, but on the other hand, she claimed to be able to ID the armed assailant (column A), whereas the other witness who gave a totally different description of the events but, as “a businessman … who is intelligent in his own right,”77 instead of a prostitute with multiple arrests and several open cases, was not as assailable as White but was unable to identify the shooter (column B).

But once one was ready to accept that strained logic, as was apparently the case with Judge Meyer Rose who otherwise behaved in no way as unfair as the Abu-Jamal Judges Paul Ribner and Albert F. Sabo, the fact that Scanlan and White contradicted each other not only with regard to the assault but also with regard to the shooting couldn’t add anything to Cook’s defense anymore: Here, too, McGill’s Chinese menu strategy worked, even though, on account of the weakness of White as a witness, only barely:78 I pick what I like from column A, add to it what I like from column B, and together, they will yield a fine meal that leads to a conviction.

Since he was defending Billy Cook and not Mumia Abu-Jamal, it can not be held against Alva that he didn’t investigate Scanlan’s story of the shooting quite as meticulously as he happened to have White’s. All the same, it is unfortunate.

Beyond the contradictions between the witnesses – which as we just saw were offset by the acceptance of the A + B = C logic by the court –, his demonstration of the bizarre character of White’s description of that crucial event had clearly worked in his advantage, to a point where White’s credibility as a witness was on the verge of collapsing.79

But we have seen in the preceding pages that while Scanlan’s description of the alleged Cook assault may have been tenable at least in principle, the same is not true of his description of the shooting of Officer Faulkner. That description was definitely absurd and made no more sense than White’s account did. But once we are at this point, we go beyond talking about the technique of cobbling together a prosecution on the model of Joseph McGill’s Chinese menu – we are now talking about the ingredients of that menu.

Actually, there was nothing to pick and choose here from either A or B because all the main meals on offer in either column were utterly inedible – because the testimonies which went into them and the witnesses who cooked them up were so incredible.


The Framing of Billy Cook

Where does that leave us with regard to Billy Cook and the charge of resisting arrest and aggravated assault? His conviction exclusively relied on testimony on the – undisputed – fact that he was arrested at the crime scene and the testimony of two witnesses who agreed on only one single point: that a Black male, somewhere, somehow, struck the police officer that was killed in the face.

If one strips the whole sequence of events discussed at Cook’s March 29, 1982 murder trial to the barest minimum, three points stick out: (1) The two alleged eyewitnesses described the altercation between Cook and the officer in terms that could not be reconciled with each other. (2) They also described the ensuing shooting of the officer in terms that could not be reconciled with each other. (3) And finally, especially with regard to the shooting and the shooting death of officer Faulkner, these witnesses were as incredible as their contributions to McGill’s “Chinese Menu” were inedible.

So seen from the trial evidence, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that there was no real evidence against Cook. But there are two more hints that would also suggest that he did nothing wrong beyond just being at 13th and Locust at the wrong time, namely, (4) the scenario of a person of Billy Cook’s physical stature – height about 5 feet, 9-10 inch, weight about 160 pounds80 – not only trying, from a very unfavorable position, to strike at physically much larger man,81 but also succeeding in this endeavor, and, closely connected with that latter point, (5) that fact that there was no evidence on Officer Faulkner’s face of any injury he suffered from Cook’s alleged blow.

All the same, as we have seen, he was found guilty.82 Given the analysis above, and given the nature of all the evidence and witnesses, there is scarcely a question that the reasonable doubt standard enshrined in the law was set aside in this case too – just as it was to be later on in the year in the case of his brother Mumia Abu-Jamal.

What was at issue in Cook’s case was of course not the death penalty, but still, at his May 12, 1982 sentencing hearing,83 prosecutor Joseph McGill went out of his way to have Cook sentenced to an actual term in jail instead of probation. He labored mightily to prove that Cook’s alleged hitting of Officer Faulkner had indeed amounted to a variety of “aggravated assault” of the sort that made it imperative to have him locked away as long as possible. The interesting thing here is not this rather unsurprising fact, but the way McGill approached this task.

Rumsfeld Foretold

The entire first half of the hearing84 was devoted to the direct examination and cross examination85 of Daniel DeVincentis of the Probation Department of the Court of Common Pleas, a process that was in reality more or less a talking duel between defense attorney Daniel Alva and ADA Joseph McGill. Based on a pre-sentence investigative report prepared by him as well as on other factors, DeVincentis, who had not been present at the trial itself, at first “recommended a period of incarceration followed by strict parole.”86 But when told by Alva during direct examination that “there was no testimony of any injury, and … no observable injury” Faulkner suffered from Billy Cook’s actions, he told the court in that case he would recommend probation instead.87

And so it went, with DeVincentis flipping sides again after ADA McGill had hammered him with a short, but emotional cross examination:

McGill: “Well, there he is at that time and at that place with a uniformed police officer behind him, and turning around, and then he hits him in the face … which led to someone’s death, the individual very shortly thereafter was shot in the back, and then shot in the face, but as far as that man is concerned, he had done that a moment before the killing, now, taking that into account, sir, … that the doctor, the Medical Examiner would say about the fact of no observable injury on the face of an individual who died as quickly as he did after the incident … that the extent of any kind of observable injury would be minimal, and … possibly not even observable at all, … I am asking you now, if you would now [be] taking into account all of those circumstances, including the blow, would that be consistent with your recommendation of jail?
DeVincentis: The way it is stated, yes, it would be.88

The same flip-flop happened during redirect and recross, until Judge Meyer Rose himself asked the final questions of this witness, who at the opportunity again switched back to the defense demand for probation:

Well, Your Honor, … the officer was struck. That in itself to me is aggravated assault. If he sustained any type of an injury, … [combined with] the fact that it was a police officer that was struck, … then I would say the recommendation should stand as it is. But if there was no injury sustained, the I would have to go with probation.89

Understandably for a legal lay person, Probation Officer DeVincentis was unsure about the law pertinent to the case, but during this whole argument, there was one thing he wasn’t unsure about at all right from the start, namely, that if there was no evidence of any injury Faulkner suffered from Cook’s alleged blow, he would not recommend a prison sentence.90 And it was crystal clear that Medical Examiner Dr. Paul Hoyer, who had examined Officer Faulkner’s body after attempts at Philadelphia’s Jefferson Hospital to bring him back to life had failed had stated that he had found no physical signs of any such injury in the Officer’s face whatsoever.91

As it turned out, McGill had a solution to this problem that was just as ingenuous as his “Chinese menu” during the guilt phase of Billy Cook’s trial: What really counted was not the actual presence of evidence of any injury in the officers face, but the fact that it couldn’t be disproven that such evidence might have emerged in the form of a hematoma, had the officer’s blood circulation not stopped shortly thereafter on account of his shooting death:

My statement is, Judge, to this Court that there was testimony of an injury sustained, when two witnesses testified to the officer being struck by the hand of this defendant, Mr. Cook.
One of the witnesses very clearly aid that Officer Faulkner winced as the result of the blow. You don’t wince unless there is some sort of injury. […]
He [Alva] told you there was no evidence of injury. Where a man hit another man, there was an effect to that blow to the face, whether or not the injury is observable, that is another matter.92

It was exactly the same position taken by U.S. defense minister Donald Rumsfeld almost a quarter century later on the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq: “Simply because you do not have evidence that something exists doesn’t not mean you have evidence that it doesn’t exist,” in other words, “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” 93


A Tale of Two Brothers

Apparently even Judge Meyer Rose was not overly impressed by McGill’s arguments since his sentence was way below of what would have been possible for aggravated assault, but all the same, sentenced to a six to twelve months prison term Billy Cook was.94

While Judge Meyer Rose didn’t even come close to the unfairness of the Abu-Jamal judges Ribner and Sabo, he first went along with the frame-up of Billy Cook engineered by ADA McGill95 and then gave in to the prosecutor’s demand of a jail sentence, even if the latter was at the lower end of the scale.

At the end of the sentencing hearing, defense attorney Alva stated the intention of his client “to appeal this,”96 but a little more than a year later, Billy Cook pleaded guilty in exchange for having his sentence reduced to probation.97

What the evidence from Billy Cook’s trial reveals is that both he, and even more importantly, his brother Mumia Abu-Jamal, were convicted and sentenced on worthless evidence that had no standing. Just as Donald Rumsfeld more than two decades later, the Commonwealth lawyer who prosecuted both cases, ADA McGill, had little time for reasonable doubts with regard to the targets of his attack. In his thinking, the presumption of guilt and the necessity to get a sentence as harsh as possible was all-pervasive.

Contradictory evidence? Pick what points to the defendant’s guilt. No evidence that the supposed crime was grave enough – e.g., by inflicting an injury to a police officer – to demand the most severe punishment? Just assume that it was, since we are engaged in a battle between law and order and anarchy, a theme McGill harped upon extensively in his summations at both the Billy Cook and the Abu-Jamal trial, a matter I have treated, with regard to the latter, in greater detail elsewhere.98

On the basis of spurious witnesses, impossible scenarios, and warped interpretations, the March 29, 1982 trial of Billy Cook for aggravated assault laid the groundwork for the later conviction and sentencing to death of Cook’s brother Mumia Abu-Jamal for murder in the first degree. Actually, the outcome of the Cook’s trial totally changed the preconditions for the Abu-Jamal trial, because the March 29, 1982 trial already “established” that the death of Officer Faulkner had not been the regrettable final result of the officer’s use of excessive force, but of actions he engaged in “in the line of duty.” It established that what Abu-Jamal had supposedly done was not just killing a man, but murder in the first degree.

In a non-Rumsfeldian/McGillian reading, the evidence presented at the Billy Cook trial points into a radically different direction.

There was no credible evidence that Billy Cook ever struck at Officer Faulkner. The stories the witnesses claiming this told were unbelievable. With regard to the quarrel between Cook and Faulkner, the only undisputable and proven fact was that Cook was beaten bloody, almost certainly by the very same officer who was killed only a couple of seconds later – shot not in the line of duty, but while engaged in an ordinary act of police brutality.

What the March 29, 1982 assault trial also showed was the abominable quality of the evidence against Mumia Abu-Jamal. Already there, two of the three key eyewitnesses at his later murder trial emerged as totally incredible, recounting events that could never have happened the way they described them. Here, too, with regard to what happened between Abu-Jamal and Faulkner, only one fact was undisputable, namely that Abu-Jamal was shot and nearly killed by Officer Faulkner’s gun.

So already the first judicial proceedings concerning the events on December 9, 1981, gave much weight to what Mumia Abu-Jamal had written even before, two months after his arrest:

I have finally been able to read press accounts of the incident that left me near death, a policeman dead, and me charged with murder. It is nightmarish that my brother and I should be in this foul predicament, particularly since my main accusers, the police, were my attackers as well. My true crime seems to be to have survived that night, for we were the victims that night.99




Dr. Michael Schiffmann is the author of the new German book, Race Against Death; Mumia Abu-Jamal: A Black Revolutionary in White America. He is also co-founder of Journalists for Mumia (Abu-Jamal-News.com), an independent news service providing news about the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal.

For more information: FreeMumia.com (NYC), FreeMumia.org (SF), PrisonRadio.org (Mumia Abu-Jamal’s radio-essays), and EmajOnline.com (Educators for Mumia).

or contact: The Intl. Concerned Family & Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal:
ICFFMAJ, PO box 19709, Phila., PA, 19143 (215-476-8812)


ENDNOTES

1 RPC (Regular Patrol Car) 610, manned by Police Officer Daniel Faulkner. The police radio transcript for December 9, 1981 lists Faulkner’s car as RPC 612. RPC 612 was the car normally assigned to the area but was in repair at the time of the events. See testimony by police dispatcher Reginald M. Thompson, Trial Protocols (TP) of the 1982 trial against Mumia Abu-Jamal, June 19, 1982, p. 99-102. The task of the police dispatcher was to assign jobs to the officers on shift via radio.
2 This description is based on the testimony by prosecution witness Albert Magilton. See TP, June 25, p. 81-85.
3 “Radio Tape Transmittal – Central Division – 12-9-81” (p. 1), contained in Petitioner Jamal’s Notice of Filing of Evidence in Support of Memorandum of Law on Court’s Jurisdiction to Hear Petition for Post-Conviction Relief and/or Habeas Corpus, a collection of documents filed by Abu-Jamal’s then defense team on November 12, 2001, quoted in the following as Petitioner Jamal’s Notice.
4 The analysis was done by former defense team member Jonathan Piper; see Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, “Memorandum: Radio Run Times,” April 22, 1999, p. 1, in Petitioner Jamal’s Notice.
5 On the role of EPW 601 and of Officers Trombetta and Wakshul, see below.
6 Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, “Memorandum: Radio Run Times,” April 22, 1999, p. 1, in Petitioner Jamal’s Notice.
7 Ibid.
8 TP, June 25, 1982, p. 11, 57, the latter reference being a question by Abu-Jamal trial attorney Anthony Jackson referring back to Scanlan’s first statement to the police on December 9, 1981, where he said that after having observed the traffic stop in front of 1234 Locust and its deadly aftermath, “I looked around me for another Policeman and didn’t see one, so I took off in my car to look for one. I found one up on Walnut St. about a block towards Broad St. I told them I just saw an Officer get shot and told them where.” See “Investigation Interview Record Michael Mark Scanlan, 12-9-81,” p. 1-2, in Petitioner Jamal’s Notice.
9 Ford Thunderbird: Scanlan testimony at Commonwealth v. William Cook: Aggravated Assault, Simple Assault, Resisting Arrest Enforcement, March 29, 1982, p. 105; in the following WCTP (William Cook Trial Protocol).
10 For two examples, see Robert J. Terry, Michael A. Hobbes and Marc Schogol, “Policeman shot to death; radio newsman charged,” Philadelphia Inquirer, December 10, 1981, and Joyce Gemperlein and Thomas J. Gibbons Jr., “Tests on bullets inconclusive in officer’s death,” Philadelphia Inquirer, December 12, 1981.
11 See “Radio Tape Transmittal – Central Division – 12-9-81” (p. 3-6), Petitioner Jamal’s Notice. Apparently the security guard’s observation had nothing to do with the killing of Officer Faulkner.
12 For the wooden bumpers and slated plate, see direct examination of prosecution witness Officer James Forbes, WCTP, p. 24, for McGill’s eventually futile efforts to have this read this into evidence, p. 24-31.
13 Ibid., p. 30-31.
14 This version, which has remained substantially the same over more than 25 years, is presented very graphically in prosecutor McGill’s opening statement at Mumia Abu-Jamal’s murder trial. See TP, June 19, 1982, p. 10-12.
15 The third witness, a cab driver named Robert Chobert, never claimed to have seen the altercation between Cook and Officer Faulkner. Consequently, he was not called to testify at Cook’s March 29, 1982 trial.
16 The police radio dispatcher mentioned in footnote 1.
17 According to the police radio tapes, Forbes and his partner Robert Shoemaker were the first officers to arrive at the scene. See “Radio Tape Transmittal – Central Division – 12-9-81,” Petitioner Jamal’s Notice, p. 1. Also see WCTP, p. 18, and TP, June 19, 1982, p. 152, and particularly ibid., p. 117, where Officer Shoemaker explicitly states that he was the first officer at the scene.
18 E.g., in his guilt phase summation at the Abu-Jamal trial, prosecutor McGill attacked defense witness Dessie Hightower, the only witness at the Abu-Jamal trial who testified to a person running away from the scene, primarily from angles that had nothing to do with that particular point, but these attacks were clearly meant to demonstrate that no other person had been at the crime scene apart from Cook, Abu-Jamal, and Faulkner. See TP, June 1, 1982, p. 165-168.
19 WCTP, p. 33.
20 Substantial evidence – see, inter alia, my article “Mumia Is Still the Issue,” on various websites – shows that White did not observe the shooting and was not even present at the Southwestern corner of 13th and Locust, where she claimed to have been. This doesn’t exclude, however, the possibility that she saw the beginning of the traffic stop.
21 WCTP, p. 34.
22 Ibid.
23 Ibid., p. 35. Two pages later in the protocol, White even claimed that Faulkner actually handcuffed Cook, which according to all other eyewitnesses is definitely not true.
24 Ibid., p. 38.
25 Interestingly, it was only at this point that the prosecutor asked the question that should have naturally been posed right after White had begun to talk about a “passenger” in the VW: “Was there only at that point the man who shot the police officer, the police officer [himself], and Mr. Cook, the defendant? … There was no one else right there in the vicinity, is that correct?” upon which White answered in the affirmative. Ibid., p. 39
26 Ibid., p. 38-80.
27 Ibid., p. 41-44; the number of 38 times is on p. 44.
28 This would be an interesting topic in its own right. Unfortunately, I can’t go into it here.
29 Ibid., p. 44-45.
30 Ibid., p. 59.
31 Ibid.
32 Ibid., p. 50-51.
33 Ibid., p. 55.
34 Ibid.
35 Ibid., p. 60.
36 Ibid., p. 67.
37 Ibid., p. 68.
38 Ibid., p. 72.
39 Ibid., p. 73. Emphasis in quote mine.
40 Ibid., p. 78.
41 On not seeing Faulkner beating Cook, see ibid. p. 76, 78, 79; on not seeing him “shoot the shooter,” i.e., according to the prosecution, Abu-Jamal, ibid., p. 79 and TP, June 21, 22, 1982, multiple locations.
42 WCTP, p. 74-75.
43 Ibid., p. 75.
44 Earlier on, she had insisted that the shooter “didn’t come running in front of the officer. […] The way he ran the officer was at an angle. […] The parking lot [he came from] is a big parking lot. It was at an angle.” Ibid., p. 90-91, emphasis mine.
45 Ibid., p. 92-93.
46 Ibid., p. 66.
47 Ibid., p. 93.
48 Daniel R. Williams, Executing Justice. An Inside Account of the Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, St. Martin’s Press, New York 2001, p. 358.
49 WCTP, p. 97-98, emphasis mine.
50 During White’s cross examination, Judge Meyer Rose (WCTP, p. 64) asked White how far away she stood from “where this incident took place,” the incident apparently being the traffic stop and then Cook and Faulkner meeting right in between the VW and the police car, upon which (ibid., p. 65) she answered “Three cars away, three car lengths away,” and shortly later on (ibid., p. 66-67, my emphasis), there was the following dialogue:

Alva: And after the conversation [between Cook and Faulkner], what happened?

White: They were walking around. They walked around in between the cars, and walked to the sidewalk. A few more words passed.

Alva: They walked in the direction that brought them closer to you; is that correct?

White: Yes.

Alva: How far were they away now?

White: Two car lengths.

Taken literally, that would mean that the altercation between Billy Cook and Daniel Faulkner took place much more to the right from where it is indicated in the picture on p. 9, which would make the answer to the question of how Abu-Jamal managed to get into Faulkner’s back even more obscure. Given the generally incoherent nature of White’s testimony, both at this and at Abu-Jamal’s trial, I won’t push this point any further here.
51 WCTP, p. 99; that Cook had to use his right hand to do this was clear from the demonstration in court on p. 100.
52 As was his custom, ADA McGill had had his witness do a little demonstration in front of the court (ibid., p.36):

McGill: First of all, will you show me – I am using this as my hand. Will you stand up, please, and could you approximately give me, if you recall, the type of force that you recall the driver used when he hit the officer? Hit my hand.

McGill: Indicating.

White: A little harder than that.
53 Ibid., p. 110.
54 See p. 13 below.
55 Scanlan was consistently unable to identify both the shooter and the person he said had hit Faulkner and said so at both trials. In the night of the shooting, when brought to EPW 601 of officers Wakshul and Trombetta which contained the severely wounded detainee Abu-Jamal, he identified the latter as the driver of the VW, and later on in his first formal statement to the police also admitted that he hadn’t seen the face of the person who shot the officer. See “Investigation Interview Record [IIR] Michael Scanlan,” December 9, 1981, 4:20 AM, p. 2, in Petitioner Jamal’s Notice.
56 According to police witnesses, the flashlight was later found, broken, on the curb of the South side of Locust Street by Police Officer William Repsch, who in turn gave it to Officer Carole Chinn. See TP, June 30, 1982, p.57-71.
57 WCTP, p. 103. Even before, answering prosecutor McGill’s question regarding the events after Faulkner started to beat Cook, “Then what did you see at this point?” Scanlan said “I saw another gentleman running across, out of the parking lot toward the two men in front of the Volkswagen,” and then indicated by forming a pistol with his hand that this “other gentleman” shot the officer in the back. WCTP, p. 98, emphasis mine.
58 Ibid., p. 107, 108, and similarly on p. 109, 110.
59 Ibid., 111-112. The “crack,” of course, supposedly referred to the first shot fired by Abu-Jamal, even though before Scanlan had commented: “The next thing I heard … sounded like a crack. I don’t know what it was.” Ibid., p. 99.
60 In fact, insistently; see ibid., p. 107, 108.
61 Direct examination by ADA McGill, ibid., p. 99.
62 My own estimate, based on visits at the crime scene and a satellite photo of the area.
63 WCTP, p. 113.
64 Ibid., p. 99. Actually, Faulkner had been shot in the nose slightly between his left eye. See TP, June 25, 1982, p. 165
65 For a delineation of that area, see the white lines on the photo on p. 10.
66 Both the publicly available police photographs and as of yet unpublished photos taken by press photographer Pedro P. Polakoff enable us to determine the position of Faulkner’s head when he was found with reasonable likelihood: It would be the point on the sidewalk with the least blood, i.e., the one from which blood flowed in both directions. That in turn would be right in the middle of the sidewalk which is approximately 3 meters wide; i.e., 1,5 m from the curb. Unless the officer’s head somehow “jerked” into that position, Scanlan would definitely not have been able to see how the killer’s bullet entered it. To this, we must add the fact that the direction his fellow officers found him stretched out in was at an angle, with the head end pointing to the Southeast and the feet pointing Northwest. See TP, June 21, 1981, direct examination of Officer Heftner by ADA McGill, p.12. Combined with the location of his head, that would put him completely outside of Scanlan’s view.
67 See his trial testimony in TP, June 19, 1982, p. 209-279 and many other sources.
68 Just to mention a few, in his first statement to the police, Scanlan talked about “three or more four shots” having been fired “point blank at the Officer on the ground,” i.e., on the sidewalk (“IIR Michael Mark Scanlan, December 9, 1981,” p. 1, in Petitioner Jamal’s Notice). Later on, this mutated to two shots at Billy Cook’s trial (WCTP, p. 99, see text for footnote 61 above), continued with two shots at the Abu-Jamal trial (TP, June 25, 1982, p. 7, 8) and then again mutated to “two or three” shots (ibid., p. 8, 38, 47, 49, 50). Even more strikingly, in his first two statements to the police – including the diagram – as well as at the Billy Cook trial, Scanlan left no doubt that the Cook/Faulkner altercation and the shooting took place in front of Cook’s VW, whereas at the Abu-Jamal trial, he placed the events in front of Faulkner’s car, a not insubstantial difference, it wo
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