Maureen Faulkner, widow of a police officer killed by Mumia Abu-Jamal in 1981, speaks with Fox News Digital about John Fetterman’s decision to place a friend of the cop killer on the Board of Pardons.
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The widow of a Philadelphia police officer who was shot and killed in the 1980s is taking aim at Pennsylvania Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman over his appointment of an individual who has expressed affection for the individual convicted of killing her husband to serve on the state’s Board of Pardons.
In a recent interview with Fox News Digital, Maureen Faulkner blasted Fetterman for advocating for the release of convicted criminals onto the streets and his appointment of Celeste Trusty to serve on the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons, saying her husband, Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner, was “shot in the head, point-blank by Mumia Abu-Jamal” in 1981.
Abu-Jamal was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death in 1982 for Faulkner’s murder, however, after numerous appeals, a federal court overturned his sentence. In 2011, prosecution agreed to a sentence of life imprisonment for Abu-Jamal without the possibility of parole.
Abu-Jamal’s case has been popularized by several individuals who have advocated for his release, including Trusty, who now serves as the secretary of the pardons board after she was appointed by Fetterman, the state’s current lieutenant governor, to the role in January.
From left to right: Pennsylvania Democratic Senate nominee John Fetterman, convicted murderer Mumia Abu-Jamal, and Maureen Faulkner. (Mandel Ngan/AFP, Lisa Terry/Liaison Agency, Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
In a May 2018 tweet, Trusty, who has a history of advocating for the clemency of convicted criminals, wrote, “i love Mumia,” adding that he’s her “buddy” and is “like an uncle to a bunch of my friends who were on the row with him.”
“That is just infuriating to me,” Faulkner said in response to Trusty’s 2018 comments on Abu-Jamal. “I don’t know what John Fetterman’s doing, but I think the Philadelphia people, the Pennsylvania people better really take a look at what they are going to do if they put John Fetterman in. The city is already destroyed. It’s going to be in shambles by the time Fetterman’s done with it.”
“I’ve been listening to it for over 40 years. I was 24 years old when my husband was murdered, shot in the head, point-blank, by Mumia Abu-Jamal,” she said. “He did it with malice and did it with premeditation, and there’s no doubt in my mind. I went to every single court hearing, and if anyone wanted to know who murdered my husband, it was me. I wanted to know who murdered Danny, and it was Mumia. He did it with such malice. I mean, he executed him.”
Faulkner said she has been “haunted” by Abu-Jamal — formerly named Wes Cook, who was an alleged member of the Black Panther Party from May 1969 until October 1970 — for more than 40 years after her husband’s death, saying she will not be at “peace” until he is dead.
Maureen Faulkner, widow of slain police officer Daniel Faulkner, speaks to the press ahead of a hearing in the appeal revisitation case of Mumia Abu-Jamal at the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia on Aug. 30, 2018. (Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
“Everywhere I go, anything I do, his name is brought up. He’s on walls, and he’s in newspapers,” she said. “I’ve been haunted for so many years of my life from this man. To be honest, I will not be at peace until he’s six feet under.”
Highlighting a personal story regarding the loss of a friend in a car crash that was told by Fetterman at an event in Farrell, Pennsylvania, earlier this year, Faulkner insisted that the Democratic Senate nominee “emotionally knows what it’s like to have tragedy” but continues to have “disregard for people’s emotions, people that have been raped, robbed, murdered, and he’s letting them out.”
“I think he mentally may have somewhat of a problem,” she added.
Faulkner also insisted that Fetterman has taken such an aggressive position on releasing those convicted of crimes over the years because he’s “doing it as a publicity stunt.”
Mumia Abu-Jamal, seen here in a Dec. 13, 1995, photo from prison, was convicted in 1982 of murdering Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. (Lisa Terry)
“Personally, I think he doesn’t care what kind of news he gets, whether it’s bad or good, it’s news,” she said of Fetterman. “His name comes up on the airwaves, and I think it gives him some kind of self-gratification. I also think that he is a progressive person, left, that for some reason he believes people should not be accountable for their crimes, which is a very dangerous, very dangerous person.”
Faulkner also said those who may now be turning a blind eye to rising crime rates across several major American cities have the potential to feel the impact of those who commit crime.
“I feel as though many people in the state of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and around the country, they look on the news, they see these horrible things that are happening to people, but it’s not happening to them,” she said. “They will, someday, if it ever happens to them, that’s when they will get the reality that our country and the state of Pennsylvania is destroyed, and crime will go up, and people will continue to be murdered and raped and robbed.”
John Fetterman, lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania and Democratic Senate candidate, speaks during an abortion rights rally at Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, on Sept. 11, 2022. (Michelle Gustafson/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
“It’s just a disgrace,” she added. “God bless Philadelphia and God bless Pennsylvania. I hope that people get out there and vote the correct way, and it’s not for John Fetterman.”
In addition to her comments related to Abu-Jamal in 2018, Trusty, the former Families Against Mandatory Minimums policy director, also claimed in a tweet at the time that Pennsylvania “has an extremely concerning number of innocent people of [sic] death row” and that there “seems to be a lethal mixture of terrible defense and corruption in the police and prosecution that leads to these cases.”
As previously reported, Trusty has repeatedly tweeted to “disarm the police” and advocated for abolishing mandatory life without parole sentences for first- and second-degree murder.
According to the Board of Pardons’ government website, the board holds “tremendous power” and “awesome responsibility” because it “reviews criminal cases, except impeachment to determine whether clemency should be recommended to the Governor for his approval or denial.”
Fetterman is chairman of the board, and Trusty, secretary of the board, is responsible for providing him and the other board members with “support, information, and advice,” as well as overseeing the daily operations of the board’s office, according to the website. Trusty does not have a vote on the pardons board.
Celeste Trusty, secretary of the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons. (Pennsylvania Board of Pardons)
In a statement to Fox News Digital, Joe Calvello, director of communications for the Fetterman campaign, said Fetterman “strongly disagrees” with Trusty’s position on Abu-Jamal.
“John does not believe that Mumia Abu-Jamal deserves a second chance nor should any cop killer get a second chance,” Calvello said. “He will never stand up for a cop killer in any way, shape or form. John worked hand in hand with the police as mayor of Braddock, and he knows how hard and dangerous their job is.”
“John strongly disagrees with Secretary Trusty on this issue and a host of other issues, in no way does she speak for John in any way, shape or form,” he added. “He totally disavows this vile remarks.”
Fetterman will face off against Republican nominee Dr. Mehmet Oz for the seat in the state’s Nov. 8 general election. The pair of candidates are slated to appear in a televised debate together on Oct. 25.
Fox News’ Jessica Chasmar contributed to this article.
Kyle Morris covers politics for Fox News. On Twitter: @RealKyleMorris.
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