One of the two men exonerated after spending decades in prison for the murder of civil rights leader Malcolm X intends to sue both New York City and the state for up to $ 60 million.
Manhattan DA Cy Vance and attorneys for Muhammad Aziz and the late Khalil Islam moved last month to overturn their 1966 convictions. Vance, in an interview with the New York Times, apologized and acknowledged the “seriousness of the error” in their cases. Authorities at his trial withheld evidence favorable to the defense, said the Innocence Project and civil rights attorney David Shanies, the attorneys for the two men.
Shanies confirmed Tuesday that Aziz will take legal action for alleged damage to his reputation. It has filed a $ 20 million claim against the State and a notice to the city of a planned $ 40 million claim unless a settlement can be reached.
The Attorney General’s office declined to comment.
Vance’s office released a review of the case in early 2020 after a Netflix documentary raised serious questions about the innocence of Aziz, known at the time as Norman 3X Butler, and Islam, then known as Thomas 15X Johnson.
Mujahid Halim, who was released on parole in 2010, admitted to having participated in the murder, but maintained that the other two did not. Islam was paroled in 1987 and died in 2009; Aziz, on parole in 1985, is now 83 years old.
Halim, also known as Talmadge Hayer and Thomas Hagan, said he was one of three gunmen who shot Malcolm X, but testified that neither Aziz nor Islam were involved. They both always said they were innocent and offered alibis. There is no physical evidence linking them to the crime.
Malcolm X was assassinated on February 21, 1965, when three men took the stage as he began a speech at the Audubon Ballroom in Washington Heights. He gained national prominence as the voice of the Nation of Islam by speaking out on the importance of blacks claiming their civil rights “by any means necessary” in his highly visible role with the Black Muslim organization.
But then he separated from the group and, after a trip to Mecca, began to speak about the potential for racial unity. He earned the ire of some in the Nation of Islam, who viewed him as a traitor.