Justice: The nominee to head the Department of Justice's civil rights division is a radical lawyer who fought to free from prison a cold-blooded killer of a Philadelphia cop.

On Dec. 9, 1981, Officer Danny Faulkner, 12 days from his 26th birthday, observed a car going the wrong way down a one-way street without its lights on.

He pulled over the vehicle, and the driver, one William Cook, got out of the car and began wrestling with Faulkner.

Moments later, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Cook's brother (aka Wesley Cook), showed up at the scene with a .38-caliber handgun and opened fire, hitting Faulkner, eyewitnesses said, in the back.

Faulkner returned fire, wounding his assailant, who got off several more shots, including the one that hit Faulkner in the face at point-blank range, killing him.

Police found Faulkner fatally wounded and Abu-Jamal with a bullet wound in his chest and his .38-caliber handgun and five spent shell casings. Four eyewitnesses testified at his trial. A jury sentenced him to death.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld his conviction in 1995, and in 1998 it refused to grant his request for a new trial. In 1999 the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review Abu-Jamal's appeal.

In December 2001, a federal judge overturned his death sentence but upheld his conviction. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a second appeal in 2010.

The bullet in Abu-Jamal came from Faulkner's gun. The bullets in Faulkner came from Abu-Jamal's weapon, and the question of Abu-Jamal's guilt has never been a close call.



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