A coldblooded cop-killer who gunned down two of New York’s Finest — finishing one off with the officer’s own gun as he begged for his life — will soon walk out of prison a free man.
Domestic terrorist Herman Bell, one of three Black Revolutionary Army thugs who in 1971 gunned down NYPD Officers Joseph Piagentini and Waverly Jones in a cowardly ambush, has been granted parole, authorities announced Wednesday.
Despite decades of insisting that he’s a “political prisoner” who was set up, Bell finally convinced the Gov. Cuomo-appointed panel that he’s a remorseful, reformed man.
“There was nothing political about the act, as much as I thought at the time. It was murder and horribly wrong,” Bell told the board, according to its report released Wednesday.
Incensed law-enforcement officials weren’t buying it, with Police Commissioner James O’Neill describing the board’s decision as “indefensible.”
“Bell was sentenced to 25- years-to-life. Over the past 47 years, he has never expressed genuine remorse. And the parole board’s unjust and irresponsible decision today renders the life portion of that sentence meaningless,” he fumed in a statement.
In a crime the parole board itself described as “one of the most supreme assaults upon society,” Bell and his buddies lured Piagentini, 28, and Jones, 33, to a Harlem housing project with a phony 911 call on May 21, 1971.
As the unsuspecting cops approached, the three opened fire — for no other reason than because they were cops.
Jones died instantly and Piagentini, who was already hit 12 times, begged for his life, noting that he had a wife and two young daughters at home.
Instead, Bell finished him off with his own service weapon.
Just months later, Bell struck again — killing San Francisco police Sgt. John Young in a Black Liberation Army assault on a station in that city.
Today, Bell would be sentenced to life without parole for the New York slayings — but that option was unavailable during his 1975 trial.Modal Trigger
He dodged the same sentence for Young’s death — cutting a plea deal with California prosecutors in 2009 for five years’ probation.
“We don’t have the death penalty in New York, but there has to be something more permanent than eventually getting released if you murder a police officer,” O’Neill said.
“Herman Bell’s victims — targeted solely for the blue uniform they wore — can never be paroled from death.”
Bell’s appearance before the board earlier this month was his eighth parole bid since 2004. Bell protested his innocence all the way up until 2012, when he finally admitted he wasn’t framed.
Yet boards both before and after the admission had rejected his bids, saying that freeing him “would deprecate the severity of this crime.”
More lenient new guidelines say the risk of repeating a crime should be the major factor for parole, however — and the current panel determined that Bell, 70, who has earned a master’s degree while doing time, was unlikely to reoffend.
“Said consideration has led the majority of this panel to concur that your release is not incompatible with the welfare of society and further believes you can live a law-abiding life,” the board wrote.
It also praised him for finally showing some remorse, saying it showed “maturation and insight.”
Former Parole Board Chairman Bob Dennison, who now advocates for inmates, slammed the decision, saying that while recidivism should be a factor, some crimes are so beyond the pale that the convict should never be released.
“I’m shocked. A cop-killer like this should never be released. This was a cold-blooded killing of a uniformed officer,” said Dennison, who headed the panel from 2004 to 2007.
“Why not let [Son of Sam killer] David Berkowitz out? Why not let [John Lennon’s killer] Mark David Chapman out?”
The decision comes on the heels of other New York cop-killers recently gaining their freedom, including Pablo “Paul” Costello for the the 1978 slaying of NYPD Officer David Guttenberg, and John Ruzas, who killed State Trooper Emerson Dillon in 1974.
The board’s decision about Bell has put cops on edge, with one senior law-enforcement official telling The Post it “ undermines police officer and public safety at a time when there is a national trend of premeditated violence against our police officers across the country.”