Malcolm X was murdered in front of his wife and children more than five decades ago while delivering a speech at Audubon Ballroom in Washington Heights, New York. While three members of the Nation of Islam - Mujahid Abdul Halim, then known by the names Thomas Hagan and Talmadge X Hayer; Muhammad Abdul Aziz, then known as Norman 3X Butler; and Khalil Islam, then known as Thomas 15X Johnson - were arrested, convicted of the activist’s murder and sentenced to life in prison, that case may be reopened.
“District Attorney [Cyrus] Vance has met with representatives from the Innocence Project and associated counsel regarding this matter,” said Danny Frost, the DA’s director of communications, in a statement reported by New York outlet PIX 11.
“He has determined that the district attorney’s office will begin a preliminary review of the matter, which will inform the office regarding what further investigative steps may be undertaken.”
The Innocence Project, a nonprofit centered on criminal justice reform, published a statement on February 7 which noted that Netflix's new, six-part docu-series “Who Killed Malcolm X?” had brought to light “new information” that prompted the organization to team up with civil rights attorney David Shanies and the Conviction Integrity Program of the New York County District Attorney’s Office.
The limited series, which premiered on Netflix on February 7, centers on historian Abdur-Rahman Muhammad’s findings and questions pertaining to Malcolm X’s February 21, 1965, assassination.
The Innocence Project highlighted that Aziz and Islam, the latter of whom died in 2009, maintained that they were innocent of the murder of Malcolm X. Halim also expressed the two had nothing to do with the assassination during the 1966 trial and in a 1977 affidavit.
“I just want to testify that Butler [Aziz] and Johnson [Islam] had nothing to do with it … I was there, I know what happened and I know the people who were there,” Halim said, as reported by the New York Times on March 1,1966.
Furthermore, FBI documents obtained by civil rights lawyer William Kunstler through the Freedom of Information Act supported Halim’s claims. However, Judge Harold Rothwax denied a motion to vacate Aziz and Islam’s convictions in November 1978.
While Aziz was released from prison on parole in 1985 and Islam in 1987, the Innocence Project contends that Aziz “has continued to carry the burden of this wrongful conviction for decades” and “hopes to prove his innocence.”