Anatomy of a Racist Frame-Up
The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal
Appendix No. 4:
Declaration of Linn Washington
3 May 2001
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
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
lack 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
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
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
Philadelphias 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 6 AM 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
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-Jamals 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 Cook years
earlier through a close friend of Cooks, Kenneth Freeman. Cook and
Freeman were constantly together, leading me to initially think that they were
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
15. Throughout the 1970s, 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 crime scene before travelling to 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 crime 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 compounds 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 Ramps 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 wasnt looking for
anything in particular because details of events regarding the shooting were
sketchy at best then.
26. Billy Cooks 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 drivers 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 ERs outside door to
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
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
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 dont 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.