The city and state of New York have agreed to pay $36 million to two men who were wrongfully convicted and later exonerated in the 1965 assassination of Malcolm X, ABC News reports.
Muhammad Abdul Aziz and the estate of Khalil Islam, who died in 2009, will receive $26 million from New York City and $10 million from the state of New York, settling lawsuits filed last year for their wrongful convictions.
The settlement “brings some measure of justice to individuals who spent decades in prison and bore the stigma of being falsely accused of murdering an iconic figure,” a New York City Law Department spokesman told ABC News on Sunday (October 30).
“Based on our review, this office stands by the opinion of former Manhattan District Attorney Vance who stated, based on his investigation, that ‘there is one ultimate conclusion: Mr. Aziz and Mr. Islam were wrongfully convicted of this crime,'” the spokesman said.
Aziz was 26 when he was arrested for the murder of Malcolm X at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City on Feb. 21, 1965. He spent 20 years behind bars before being released on parole in 1985. Islam served 22 years in prison.
Talmadge Hayer admitted to shooting the civil rights icon and testified that Azi and Islam weren’t involved in the assassination, later naming four other men who helped carry out the murder.
Despite Hayer’s testimony and the two men appealing their convictions and maintaining their innocence for years, the case wasn’t reopened until the Netflix documentary “Who Killed Malcolm X?” sparked renewed interest in 2020.
“After I had watched the Netflix documentary. I thought there was enough to look at this,” then-Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance said in a statement at the time.
Vance vacated the convictions of Aziz, 84, and the late Islam in November 2021, citing “newly discovered evidence and the failure to disclose exculpatory evidence.”
He apologized last year for the NYPD and FBI’s “serious, unacceptable violations of the law and the public trust.”
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