Linn Washington

Declaration of news reporter, Linn Washington who worked with Mumia and observed improprieties at the crime scene.

 

 

DECLARATION OF LINN WASHINGTON

 

I, LINN WASHINGTON, declare:

 

1. This is an account of events that transpired on the morning of December 9, 1981. This account is my true and accurate recollection of these events.

 

2. I submit the following account understanding the federal and state laws pertaining to perjury and submission of false information.

 

3. This account principally examines two areas: (1) the unusual of police presence at the 13th and Locust Sts. crime scene site of the shooting of Officer Daniel Faulkner and (2) events at Thomas Jefferson Hospital, where Officer Faulkner and Mr. Abu-Jamal were taken for treatment.

 

4. My name is Linn Washington. I am currently a columnist for The Philadelphia Tribune newspaper. Further, I am a freelance journalist for publications nationwide. I write extensively on matters involving the criminal justice system and racism. Additionally, I am an Assistant Professor in the Journalism Department at Temple University in Philadelphia. I hold a Master Degree from the Yale Law School and a B.S. in Communications from Temple University.

 

5. At the time of the events detailed below, I was working as a reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News. My assignment for the Daily News then was a municipal beat reporter assigned to cover the 17-member City Council in Philadelphia. I was assigned to the City Hall Bureau of the Daily News. I had worked as a full time newspaper reporter in the city of Philadelphia since October 1975. As a reporter, I covered a variety of assignments including police beat/crime reporting and investigative reporting. By December of 1981, I had received awards for some of my journalistic coverage.

 

6. On December 9, 1981, I knew Mr. Abu-Jamal professionally and personally. I knew Mr. Abu-Jamal as a fellow journalist whom I had worked closely covering a variety of assignments including news events involving allegations of abusive misconduct by members of the Philadelphia Police Department. Additionally, I knew Mr. Abu-Jamal as a friend, having first met him nearly seven years earlier at WRTI-FM, the radio station for Temple University, the college where I completed my undergraduate studies.

 

7. On the morning of December 9, 1981, when I awoke, I turned on Philadelphia s all-news KYW radio station. Tuning into KYW when I awoke was my reportorial practice at the time. I did this to become acquainted with the major news of the respective day.

 

8. The lead story on December 9 when I turned on KYW sometime after 6AM was the shooting of Officer Faulkner.

 

9. This news item immediately caught my attention for two reasons beyond the tragic shooting of a police officer.

 

10. First, the KYW report declared that police had apprehended journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal at the scene. I knew Abu-Jamal, as stated above.

 

11. Second, the KYW report declared that when the first officers responded to reports of a shooting at 13th and Locust, they found one man spread eagle on a building wall and another man slumped on the curb.

 

12. The man on the wall, KYW reported, was William Billy Cook, the brother of Abu-Jamal. I thought it was unusual that Cook was spread eagle on the wall before being ordered to do so by arriving police.

 

13. I knew William Cook as Abu-Jamal’s brother. I also knew that Cook was a street vendor in downtown Philadelphia. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Philadelphia Police frequently harassed Black Street vendors, incidents that I had reported on as a journalist. I first met [illegible] close friend of Cook’s, Kenneth Freeman. Cook and Freeman were constantly together, leading me to initially think that they were relatives.

 

14. I met Kenneth Freeman in the mid-I970s when he came to the offices of The Philadelphia Tribune after receiving an alleged beating at the hands of Philadelphia police. I then worked as a reporter for the Tribune.

 

15. Throughout the 1 970s, Philadelphia police frequently beat Black men in general and Black street vendors in particular, as amply documented in numerous official reports during that era conducted by federal authorities and local monitoring agencies.

 

16. After hearing that KYW report when I awoke on December 9, 1981, I called the City Desk at the Daily News to see if the editors had a specific assignment for me regarding this story. I was given a typical generic assignment of getting whatever information you can and report that information to editors on a periodic basis.

 

17. When I left home sometime around 7:30 AM, in route to downtown Philadelphia, I decided to visit the [illegible] Jefferson Hospital. Jefferson, as stated above, was the medical facility where Officer Faulkner and Mr. Abu-Jamal were taken.

 

18. When I arrived at the 13th and Locust crime scene, the first thing that struck me was the absolute absence of any police. When I arrived at the [illegible] scene around 8:30 AM, there were no police officers in sight. There were no uniformed officers, no detectives, no special detail officers (like crime scene investigators) at the location of the shooting.

 

19. I found this total lack of police presence at a crime scene to be highly unusual.

 

20. As a veteran of much police beat reporting then, I knew it was generally standard practice to at least assign a uniformed officer to guard the crime scene. I found it highly unusual that no police were maintaining the integrity of this crime scene, particularly since this incident involved the shooting of a police officer. I had covered previous shootings, including some non-fatal shootings of police officers, where police kept the crime scene cordoned off from the public for days.

 

21. However, while the lack of police presence was unusual, it was not unprecedented. I had observed Philadelphia police do unusual things with crime scenes in a few prior instances. Most notable was the police destruction of a crime scene on August 8, 1978 a few short hours after the shoot-out between members of the MOVE organization and Philadelphia police that resulted in the death of Officer James Ramp.

 

22. Police razed the compound that MOVE members occupied during the shoot-out within three hours after the last MOVE member surrendered. During the surrender, MOVE members climbed out of the compound’s basement that had been flooded with water and tear gas by police to force their surrender.

 

23. It is my belief that police destroyed this MOVE crime scene before the passage of sufficient time to conduct a reasonably thorough investigation. Police personnel were in the darkened (no electricity) ramshackle MOVE compound for less than two hours before a demolition crane leveled the property.

 

24. Questions about the sufficiency of the police investigation of the August 1978 crime scene arose repeatedly during the contentious trial involving the MOVE members charged with Officer Ramp’s death. During this era, questions frequently arose about the adequacy of police investigations into incidents of alleged abuse by police. I feared that the lack of police presence at the December 1981 13th and Locust Sts. crime scene would have an adverse effect on the sufficiency of the police investigation involving the charges against Mr. Abu-Jamal.

 

25. At 13th and Locust Sts. on the morning of December 9, 1981, I visually inspected the crime scene. I wanted to familiarize myself with the scene, gathering as much visual data as I could. Yet I wasn t looking for anything in particular because details of events regarding the shooting were sketchy at best then.

 

26. Billy Cook’s VW was still at the crime scene. The car was unlocked. I opened the passenger side door and looked inside the parked VW. It is my recollection that I saw a few drops of blood on the floor in the back behind the driver s seat.

 

27. My inspection of the VW was brief. However, during the time that I remained at the crime scene, no police arrived.

 

28. From the unguarded 13th and Locust Sts. crime scene, I traveled to Jefferson Hospital. I think this was shortly before 9:00 AM.

 

29. I proceeded to the Emergency Room at Jefferson. Philadelphia police and hospital security blocked access to the Emergency Room from inside the hospital. Other reporters were milling around the hallways outside the Emergency Room. My recollection is that police/security were denying access to the Emergency Room even to some hospital personnel, presumably those not specifically assigned ER tasks at that particular time.

 

30. I then tried to gain access to the Emergency Room from the outside entrance but that too was blocked, by a bevy of Philadelphia police. This police cordon prevented even walking up to the ER s outside door to look inside.

 

31. Sometime after arriving at Jefferson, I have a recollection of seeing a hospital worker who knew me as a reporter and this person said that police were beating Mr. Abu-Jamal in the ER. I had no way of confirming this allegation, being denied access to the ER and the unavailability of police or hospital spokespersons. However, that allegation of assault did not surprise me given the pattern and practice of abusive acts by Philadelphia police repeatedly documented by federal government and local media investigators at that time.

 

32. While at Jefferson, I eventually made my way to an atrium type area, where food was served. While getting food, I saw two other reporters that I knew.

 

33. It is my recollection that during a conversation with them one stated that he had talked with a person he knew in the hospital who told him of having seen police assault Mr. Abu-Jamal in the ER. This account was consistent with the account I had received from the hospital worker who approached me with information about a beating.

 

34. I remember staying in Jefferson for another hour, awaiting reports from hospital press information spokespersons. I don’t remember receiving any reports from hospital spokespersons.

 

35. While in contact with my editors at the Daily News from the Hospital, they told me to return to my office in the City hall press room. I left Jefferson Hospital sometime after noon on December 9, 1981.

 

I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America that the above is true and correct and was executed by me on May 3, 2001, at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

 

(signed) LINN WASHINGTON