As a media firestorm erupts over the failed nomination of Mumia abu-Jamal’s former lawyer to head up the Department of Justice’s civil rights division, a similar figure to abu-Jamal was released from jail on Tuesday after serving time for the murder of a Baltimore police officer.
The NAACP praised the release of Marshall “Eddie” Conway, a former Black Panther leader.
“It just shows you that things can come right after a wrong,“ Baltimore NAACP President Tessa Hill-Aston told the Baltimore CBS affiliate.
The NAACP fought for the release of Conway, who was convicted in 197o for the killing of Officer Donald Sager. Sager was gunned down after responding to a domestic disturbance call by three assailants. It was argued in court that Sager was killed in a Black Panther initiatory rite that required the two men that participated to prove their loyalty.
Abu-Jamal, the man who may have doomed the DoJ nomination of Debo Adegbile, was a former Black Panther who murdered a police officer who had pulled over his brother for a routine traffic stop. His case has become a lightning rod for liberals and social justice advocates.
Conway was not released due to new evidence that placed doubt on his involvement — he was released due to a Maryland Court of Appeals ruling that invalidated many pre-1980 verdicts due to irregular jury instructions.
The son of the slain officer expressed his disillusionment at the ruling and said he was devastated by the fact that Conway now walks free.
“My mother passed away two years ago, and in a way I’m glad that she’s not around to see this,” David Sager told The Baltimore Sun. “This is a very sad day. I think this is another tragedy on our justice system, one of a string of tragedies.”
The Baltimore Police Union also expressed their dissatisfaction with the ruling and a spokesman stated that Conway should’ve served the entirety of his sentence — life.
“It’s a difficult thing to learn after all these years that he’s not going to fulfill the sentence he was given, which was death,” the vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police said.