Well-meaning but woefully inaccurate
Traveler | 02/12/2001
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Before you click the "NO" button, read the following all the way through.I have no doubt that supporters of Mumia Abu-Jamal's bid for clemency mean well. I myself have grave reservations about the death penalty's place in society. Yes, the criminal justice system is flawed, and the wrong people can be railroaded.What I do not have reservations about are Mumia's guilt in this particular crime.I am annoyed at the way people who analyze this incident factually are labeled as "racist." For that reason I am submitting this review anonymously. I do not consider myself a racist by any stretch of the imagination, but I do feel that someone who kills a policeman in cold blood is guilty of a crime, no matter who they are. No credible mitigating circumstances have ever been shown in this case. To that end, I submit that this documentary is only helping spread a lopsided, factually distorted view of the incident.To wit:1. "Mumia never received a fair trial." In fact, Mumia attempted to dismiss his own lawyer and represent himself, or failing that have a man appointed to the position who had no experience with law (MOVE leader John Africa). Mumia repeatedly disrupted the courtroom with his outbursts and refused to call two key material witnesses for the defense to the stand. If anyone is responsible for Mumia not getting a fair trial, it was Mumia himself, who sabotaged his own defense time and again.2. "The bullet that killed Officer Faulkner was a .44, while Mumia's gun was a .38." This was based on a misreading of preliminary notes made during the officer's autopsy, which was never intended to be entered into evidence and was later corrected by ballistics. Why this particular piece of information keeps being repeated is puzzling; ballistics has since shown that the bullets that killed Faulkner matched Mumia's gun (which he owned and was registered to him) to a high degree of accuracy.3. "Witnesses reported seeing another man kill Office Faulkner and flee the scene." None of these witnesses supplied evidence that directly contradicted the testimony of other, more substantiated witnesses (as well as the heavy weight of the physical evidence).4. "The jury was stacked." Mumia and his lawyer had a free hand in choosing the jury, 33% of whom were black (an accurate reflection of the racial makeup of Philadelphia). They approved a great many white jurors to deliver a verdict of guilty.5. "Mumia was coming to the aid of his brother who was a victim of police brutality." The brother, who was being pulled over by the officer in question, has never spoken in Mumia's defense. Four on-the-scene eyewitnesses show that the brother (who sustained only a cut behind the ear) assaulted the officer first. [The officer was shot in the back, in the chest, and then in the head at close range -- allegedly in "self-defense."]And so on. Nothing in this documentary was derived from the public records of the trial, but has been taken directly from Mumia's supporters.I understand how emotionally charged this case is, but that is no excuse for shoddy scholarship -- or total absence of same.Get the facts, not the propaganda."
Lack of a "fair" trial does not equal innocence
Traveler | New England | 03/18/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)
"As a hardcore progressive activist (involved in the peace movement, oppose the death penality, etc.), I've followed the Mumia situation for quite some time. However, I've been troubled, not by the pro-death penality advocates, but by the Pro-Mumia movement itself which has repeatedly relied upon lies and manipulation to make a case for Mumia.There are claims made in this documentary that don't hold up to scrutiny.The caliber of the gun "not matching" the murder weapon: This claim is based on a hand written note of the initial doctor who saw Faulkner's body who had very little training in ballistics. Afterwards this doctor retracted his statement and stated quite bluntly that he was just guessing. Those trained in ballistics have stated that the bullet that killed Faulker did indeed come from the gun owned by Mumia. It was in fact Mumia's gun which killed officer Faulkner. Did Mumia pull the trigger? We can't be 100 percent sure.Mumia's brother has not testified on his behalf nor made ANY - EVER - public statement in defense of Mumia. And Mumia's brother was at the scene of the crime. Mumia activists state that the brother won't come forward because of fear of reprisals. This just doesn't make sense. Mumia has been on death row! Couldn't he make a video statement taped in another country which won't extradite him should there be any ramifications from his actions? Mumia's confession: Pro-Mumia activists claim that the police officer who quotes Mumia confessing to the killing only came forward months after the fact. The argument is that a confession of this importance should have been reported immediately and that this kind of behavior indicates a possible fabrication given the delay. This seems to make sense on its face. However, there was another witness to this incident. A hospital security guard reported within a day or so that Mumia had confessed to the shooting. Pro-Mumia activists point out that the guard was a "friend" of Faulkner. OK, maybe that creates bias, but the fact of the matter is, the guard's statements destroys the attack on on the delayed police report - because there was no delay. This doesn't mean that no one is lying, of course.The trial: There is in fact evidence to show that Mumia did not receive a fair trial. However, as pointed out by others, Mumia certainly didn't help his case by being disruptive. The man seemed almost intent upon angering the judge and doing everything possible to have himself removed from the court room.Eyewitnesses: This is perhaps the most problematic portion of either side. Some say Mumia did it, some say he didn't. Some say there was a running man from the scene of the crime. Just about all the witnesses have ulterior motives and could be dismissed as lacking credibility.Many people don't realize this, but Faulkner had on his body a driver's license which had not been called into the police department. The obvious conclusion is that this license belonged to a third suspect (Mumia, his brother, and someone else). Tracing this license, the police discovered that it belonged to a man with a solid alibi - but he had loaned it to another man who was a friend of Mumia's brother. Voila. Now you have the "running man." Unfortunately, this man has been dead for many years now, killed in an apparent gang shooting.So did Mumia do it? And did he receive a fully fair trial? The evidence points straight to Mumia as the shooter. However, none of this means he got a fair trial or that the police didn't lie to make their case. The problem is, Mumia has come to represent much more than a single event. Progressives of all stripes bring this case up as evidence of police lies and manipulation. This is unfortunate. Mumia's case is not as clear cut as activists make it out to be. Even worse, the constant arguing of his innocence damages the credibility of an entire movement which opposes the death penalty and the rampant racism within the US justice system. More than any other case, Mumia has come to represent to death penalty advocates the overall "lies" of the progressive left.This documentary only contributes further to the damage."
Traveler | 01/26/2003
(1 out of 5 stars)
"...I covered the Mumia trial. He did everything he could to sabotage his own defense. Mumia insisted again and again to a weary Judge Sabo that John Africa, founder of MOVE, represent him in the murder trial...even though John Africa was not a lawyer. A shooting that takes place in the wee hours of the morning in a shady center city neighborhood will NOT have very savory or perfect witnesses. This one did not. But if Mumia was defending his brother from Officer Daniel Faulkner, why didn't Mumia's brother testify on Mumia's behalf? Why was Faulkner shot in the head with Mumia's gun at point blank range? This documentary is a one sided mess. Mumia and Officer Faulkner deserve better."