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Daniel J. Faulkner (December 21, 1955 – December 9, 1981) was a police officer in the Americanmarker city of Philadelphiamarker who was shot and killed in the line of duty by Mumia Abu-Jamal, who has been convicted of first-degree murder for the slaying and sentenced to death. The slaying was the culmination of a traffic stop in downtown Philadelphia, not initially involving Abu-Jamal, which escalated into an exchange of gunfire in which Abu-Jamal was himself shot and wounded by officer Faulkner. Since 2000, the City of Philadelphia has memorialized Faulkner with a street designation and a commemorative plaque.

Life and career

Faulkner's parents were an Irish Catholic couple in Southwest Philadelphia, who produced six children before the birth of Faulkner, their last. Faulkner's trolley car driver father survived the birth of his youngest child by only five years; after his death following a heart attack, Faulkner's working mother was left to raise him, with the assistance of the couple's older children. Faulkner dropped out of high school, but earned his diploma and an associate's degree in criminal justice while serving in the United States Army. In 1975, he left the Army, worked briefly as a corrections officer, and then joined the Philadelphia Police Department. Aspiring to be a city prosecutor, Faulkner enrolled in college to earn his bachelor's degree in criminal justice. He married in 1979. On the evening of December 9, 1981, he was murdered while making an arrest.

Murder

The chain of events started with Faulkner stopping a moving vehicle near the southeast corner of the intersection of South 13th Street and Locust Street in downtown Philadelphia. The United States Court of Appeals, in ruling against Abu-Jamal in 2008, described the killing of Officer Faulkner thus:

On December 9, 1981, between three thirty and four o’clock in the morning, Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner made a traffic stop of a Volkswagen driven by William Cook, Abu-Jamal’s brother, on Locust Street between 12th and 13th Streets, in Philadelphia. Officer Faulkner radioed for backup assistance, and both men exited their vehicles. A struggle ensued, and Officer Faulkner tried to secure Cook’s hands behind his back. At that moment, Abu-Jamal, who was in a parking lot on the opposite side of the street, ran toward Officer Faulkner and Cook. As he approached, Abu-Jamal shot Officer Faulkner in the back. As Officer Faulkner fell to the ground, he was able to turn around, reach for his own firearm, and fire at Abu-Jamal, striking him in the chest. Abu-Jamal, now standing over Officer Faulkner, fired four shots at close range. One shot struck Officer Faulkner between the eyes and entered his brain.


The sequence of events described by the court is disputed by supporters of Abu-Jamal.

Abu-Jamal collapsed nearby and was taken into custody by responding police officers. Daniel Faulkner was pronounced dead the same night. Abu-Jamal was charged with murder in the first degree and convicted of that charge in 1982.

Aftermath

His widow, Maureen Faulkner, moved to Californiamarker. In 1994, upon discovering that National Public Radio planned to broadcast a series of commentaries taped by Abu-Jamal from death row, she began a campaign of her own to counter the "Free Mumia" movement. Since then, she has made numerous public appearances in support of upholding Abu-Jamal's conviction and death sentence. In 1999, she visited The Evergreen State Collegemarker in Olympia, Washington during its commencement ceremony to protest the selection of Abu-Jamal as one of five commencement speakers. Since as a death row inmate he was unable to attend, the graduates listened to a 13 minute audio recording of his address. On December 9, 2001, she returned to Philadelphia to attend a ceremony honoring Daniel Faulkner on the 20th anniversary of his murder. Five years later, on December 8, 2006, she returned there once again, where she made public comments in which she characterized Abu-Jamal's supporters as "know-nothings" and praised District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham for steadfastly defending against Abu-Jamal's many appeals.

In 2000, ten mile long Roosevelt Boulevard was designated the Police Officer Daniel Faulkner Memorial Highway pursuant to an act of the state legislature. (The roadway's official name is still Roosevelt Boulevard.) In 2001, a plaque was set in the sidewalk at 1234 Locust Street to mark the spot of his death.

In 2007, Maureen coauthored a book with Philadelphia radio journalist Michael Smerconish entitled Murdered by Mumia: A Life Sentence of Pain, Loss, and Injustice. She describes the work as "the first book to definitively lay out the case against Mumia Abu-Jamal and those who’ve elevated him to the status of political prisoner."

On April 6, 2009, the United States Supreme Court ruled that Mumia's original conviction of 28 years ago would stand.

Footnotes

  1. United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Nos. 01-9014 & 02-9001, Mumia Abu-Jamal v. Martin Horn, March 27, 2008
  2. "Slain cop's widow wages long campaign to see justice done", Ventura County Star
  3. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Legislative Journal, June 14, 2000, p. 1431 (PDF)
  4. Northeast Times, 8 November 2000
  5. Philadelphia Daily News, 6 December 2001
  6. Philadelphia Inquirer, 9 December 2001
  7. Murdered by Mumia official book site


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