2 Men Wrongly Convicted of Killing Malcom X to Receive $36 Million Settlement


  • New York City and the state will pay $36 million to two men who were wrongly convicted of murdering Malcolm X, per AP.
  • Muhammad A. Aziz originally sought $40 million in a civil rights lawsuit in July.
  • The settlement will be split between Aziz and the estate of the late Khalil Islam, who died in 2009.

Two men who were wrongly convicted in the 1965 murder of Malcolm X will receive a $36 million settlement from New York City and New York state, their attorney David Shanies said on Sunday, per the AP and Reuters.

Paperwork for the settlement will be signed over the next few weeks, with New York City paying $26 million and the state of New York paying $10 million, Shanies told the AP. Shanies did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Muhammad A. Aziz and Khalil Islam, then known as Norman 3X Butler and Thomas 15X Johnson respectively, were sentenced to life in prison in 1966 for Malcolm X’s murder. Aziz was released on parole in 1985, while Islam was released on parole in 1987 and died in 2009, per The Washington Post

They were exonerated in November after an almost two-year-long investigation — run by the New York county district attorney Cyrus Vance, nonprofit organization The Innocence Project, and Shanies — showed that the FBI and the New York Police Department, or NYPD, withheld evidence during the original trial in 1966.

In July, Aziz, who is now 84, filed a $40 million civil rights lawsuit arguing that his wrongful conviction was the result of “flagrant official misconduct, including, inter alia, by the NYPD and its intelligence unit, the Bureau of Special Services and Investigations,” court documents showed.

Aziz was 26 years old and a father to six when he was arrested, and the damage done to him and his family “was immense and irreparable,” court documents stated.

The settlement will be split equally between Aziz and the estate of Islam, The New York Times reported, citing Nicholas Paolucci, the director of public affairs for the New York City Law Department, and Shanies. Paolucci did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Malcolm X, a civil rights activist and a prominent member of the Nation of Islam, was assassinated on February 21, 1965, while preparing to speak at a rally in the Audubon Ballroom in Washington Heights. He had broken from the Nation of Islam about a year before his death.

A third man convicted for the murder, Mujahid Abdul Halim, also known as Talmadge Hayer, admitted in 1966 to taking part in the assassination but had long denied that Aziz and Islam were involved, per The New York Times. Halim was released on parole in 2010.


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