According to officials involved in the case, Manhattan prosecutors will move to vacate the convictions of two men who served decades in prison for the murder of civil rights activist Malcolm X.
Muhammad A. Aziz, who previously went by the name Norman 3X Butler, was one of three men convicted for the murder of the civil rights icon at the Audubon Ballroom in Upper Manhattan in 1965.
Aziz was released in 1985 and has maintained his claim of innocence. The other man likely to be exonerated is Khalil Islam (a.k.a. Thomas 15X Johnson), who maintained his innocence until he died in 2009.
A Netflix documentary on Malcolm X’s assassination released last year raised new questions and doubts about the two men, prompting New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance to review the case.
Vance’s team found prosecutors, the NYPD, and FBI withheld key evidence that would’ve led to the acquittal of the two men. Vance apologized for the failure of law enforcement at a news conference Wednesday.
“This points to the truth that law enforcement over history has often failed to live up to its responsibilities,” Vance said. “These men did not get the justice that they deserved.”
Vance and the Innocence Project, part of Aziz’s legal team, made the announcement Wednesday in the New York State Supreme Court. The announcement did not name the two men, but two people close to the situation identified the two men according to The Washington Post.
Malcolm X’s assassination has been a fiercely debated topic since the day he was shot and killed on Feb. 21, 1965. Theories on Malcolm X’s murder include a government or federal law enforcement conspiracy and theories claiming the involvement of the Nation of Islam because they felt he became larger than their movement.
The Netflix documentary explores the possibility that the civil rights leader was killed by members of the Nation of Islam from Newark living in plain sight while Aziz and Islam were in jail.