Cop killer Herman Bell released after 44 years

Those who say "time heals all wounds" would never use that expression to describe the cold-blooded murders of New York City police officers Waverly Jones and Joseph Piagentini.

Convicted cop killer Herman Bell served 44 years in prison, expressed remorse, and was deemed safe to society by the state's parole board after his eighth parole hearing. He was released from Shawangunk Correctional Facility in Wallkill on Friday.

"Respect for the law has now been shot down when you have a parole board that does not follow the law, a court that doesn't establish the rules to make sure they follow the law," PBA President Patrick Lynch said. "We have a political and a justice system that has failed us."

In 1971, Bell and two other members of the radical group Black liberation Army lured the two officers to a Harlem housing development with a bogus 911 call. In the ambush, Jones died from a single gunshot.

Wounded, Piagentini begged for his life in the name of his two daughters. Herman Bell emptied both of his guns. Piagentini was shot 22 times, authorities said.

In 1979, Bell and the two accomplices were convicted of murder. A judge sentenced them to 25 years to life in prison, which was the law at the time. One accomplice died in prison while the other, Anthony Bottom, is due for a parole hearing in June.

Last month when the parole board approved Bell's release, Piagentini's widow, Diane Piagentini, said the decision "put a bulls-eye on every officer who serves the city and this country." She said in a statement released Friday that Gov. Andrew Cuomo "failed to uphold his oath" to protect New Yorkers.

"Shame on you. You should have put politics aside and done the right thing. You should have given us a new parole hearing," Piagentini said. "You should have at least met with us and done right for two police officers, Joseph Piagentini and Waverly Jones, who were killed protecting and serving the citizens of New York."

The PBA filed a lawsuit on her behalf to block Bell's release. An appellate judge on Wednesday denied the union's request for a temporary restraining order to keep Bell behind bars.

Cuomo has said that he disagrees with the board's decision to release Bell.