Jul 14, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Man exonerated in Malcolm X killing sues NYC over wrongful conviction

Muhammad Aziz stands outside of a New York City courthouse with members of his family and lawyers after his conviction in the killing of Malcolm X was thrown out on Nov. 18, 2021. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Muhammad A. Aziz, who last year was exonerated for the murder of civil rights leader Malcolm X, on Thursday sued New York City over the "official misconduct that caused him to spend over 20 years in prison."

The big picture: Aziz and Khalil Islam both spent decades in prison after they were wrongfully convicted in 1966 in the killing of Malcolm X. The two men were exonerated in November 2021.

  • Aziz and the city comptroller had been in the process of settlement negotiations, which appear to have broken down, according to the New York Times.

Driving the news: Aziz is suing New York City for $40 million over his wrongful conviction, which a reinvestigation showed was "the product of flagrant official misconduct," according to the lawsuit.

  • The lawsuit accuses the New York Police Department and the Manhattan district attorney's office of withholding evidence and coercing witnesses into giving false testimony.
  • The original case against Aziz rested entirely on eyewitness testimony, as there was no physical or forensic evidence linking him to the shooting, according to the lawsuit.

Background: In one of the most high-profile assassinations of the civil rights era, Malcolm X was killed in 1965 when three men opened fire in New York’s Audubon Ballroom as he was about to speak.

  • Aziz, who was 26 years old at the time, was arrested for the murder alongside Islam. Both men maintained that they were innocent.
  • Aziz was released in 1985 while Islam was released in 1987 and died in 2009.

Go deeper: Two men exonerated in Malcolm X killing

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