William Singletary, 65, Courageous Witness of Mumia's Innocence
Mumia is Innocent, Free Him Now!
By Steven Argue
William Singletary died on December 31, 2011 at 65 years of age. His wife, Jeannette, passed on this this final message to Mumia Abu-Jamal and all his supporters:
"I didn't know Mumia personally, but love him like a brother. I know what he's gone through and he is innocent. I would give up everything for Mumia to be free."
Mumia Abu-Jamal was framed and sentenced to death in 1981 for the murder of Officer Faulkner in Philadelphia. In 2011 the prosecution announced they would not seek to reinstate Mumia’s overturned death penalty, but Mumia continues to sit in prison for a murder he did not do. William Singletary, at great personal cost, helped reveal the truth of Mumia’s innocence.
William Singletary gave an eyewitness account of Mumia Abu-Jamal not being the shooter. He also gave an eyewitness account, one of many, of police threats and intimidation to obtain false testimony against Mumia Abu-Jamal. While William Singletary did sign a statement saying that Mumia did it on the night of the murder, he immediately stated after that he signed that statement under the duress of police threats. Of that statement he says, “That's what they made me say, I stayed in there [in a police interrogation room] from 4:30 to 9:30 a.m. and when I left, I felt like I had been raped.”
That night, while trying to intimidate William Singletary for refusing to lie about what he had seen, the police told William Singletary that they would beat him up in the elevator and destroy his business if he didn’t sign. He came out immediately after saying that what they forced him to sign was a lie. Cops with guns drawn then showed-up at his business, trashing his work place and hassling the drivers working for him. This police intimidation and harassment caused William Singletary to close his business. He then fled Philadelphia fearing for his life and the safety of his family.
William Singletary said he saw another man shoot Officer Faulkner, and it was not Mumia Abu-Jamal. He was in fact the only credible eyewitness to actually see who shot Officer Faulkner. He said that a man in a green army jacket got out of the VW stopped by police, shot Faulkner, and ran. This account was corroborated by other eyewitnesses as well as by physical evidence. Mumia Abu-Jamal was not wearing an army jacket that night and not riding in the VW. Nor did Mumia run away, he was shot and ran nowhere. The jacket Mumia was wearing is in evidence and it is a red quilted ski jacket with a couple blue stripes. Nor was William Cook, the driver of the VW, wearing a green army jacket.
The prosecution’s star witness, Cynthia White, gave two extremely different versions of events at two different trials. One version was given at William Cook’s trial, and a differing version at Mumia’s trial. At Cook’s trial she said there was a passenger in Cook’s VW. At Mumia’s trial she claimed there was no passenger.
In the case of Mumia, eyewitnesses have said that the passenger in Cook’s VW was one of the actual killers. Yet Mumia was not riding in the VW and the prosecution claims that Mumia was the lone killer. So in Mumia’s trial, it was useful for the prosecution to disappear the passenger from the testimony, despite White’s other testimony that there was a passenger. These two differing versions, obviously including perjured testimony, were cynically used by prosecutors to fit differing prosecutions.
There is also physical evidence of a passenger in the VW, evidence that was illegally suppressed by the prosecution for 13 years. That evidence was an ID found on the body of Officer Faulkner. It was in the name of Arnold Howard. At the time of the shooting, as a result of this evidence, Arnold Howard was arrested by the police and tested to see if he had fired a gun the night of the shooting (something interestingly enough never done to Mumia Abu-Jamal). Arnold Howard told the police that he had loaned his ID to Kenneth Freeman. (Transcript for August 11, 1995, pp. 130-131.)
Along with physical evidence, the VW driver, William Cook, also placed Kenneth Freeman as the passenger in the VW. In Cook’s signed declaration of what happened he also says Freeman was carrying a .38 that night. Cook went on to say, in that declaration, that after the shooting,
“Poppi [Kenneth Freeman] talked about a plan to kill Faulkner. He told me that he was armed on that night and participated in the shooting. He was connected and knew all kinds of people. I used to ask him about it but he talked but never said much. He wasn't a talker. I didn't see Poppi [Kenneth Freeman] for a while after that. Poppi [Kenneth Freeman] had been in Germany in the army. That night he was wearing his green army jacket.”
On May 14, 1985, according to the testimony of Arnold Howard, Kenneth Freeman’s naked corpse was found outside in the cold handcuffed. No investigation was carried out on Freeman’s death and the coroner reported the cause of death to be a heart attack. This has the appearance of an extra-judicial police murder of an actual killer of Officer Faulkner, but has not been investigated.
The prosecution’s version of events denies anyone on the scene wearing a green army jacket. Besides Singletary and Cook, five other eyewitnesses also put a man in a green army jacket on the scene. These were stake out Officer Forbes (the putative first officer to arrive), Officer Stephen Trembetta, Robert Magiltan, Michael Scanlan, and Arnold Beverly, who has confessed to being one of two people who killed Faulkner. Beverly states in his confession that he was also wearing a green army jacket that night as well.
In addition, the prosecution’s version of events denies anyone running from the scene. Six eyewitnesses contradict this by saying they saw men running from the scene. These would have been the real shooter or shooters. Those eyewitnesses are Dessie Hightower, William Singletary, Veronica Jones, Robert Chobert, Arnold Beverly, and William Cook.
Before the trial, Veronica Jones changed her story before she testified. In her original version of events, contained in a report she gave to police, Veronica Jones said she saw two men running from the scene. Yet at the trial the two men running were missing from her testimony. This came as a complete surprise to the defense because Mumia’s supposed attorney, Anthony Jackson, did not even bother to interview witnesses before the trial. Earlier in the trial Mumia was denied his legal rights when his attempt to fire Anthony Jackson was denied by Judge Sabo.
Jones retracted her 1982 court testimony in 1996, saying that her original police report was the truth, and that she was coerced by the police into saying she didn’t see anybody running from the scene. She gave this testimony despite being forcefully reminded by Judge Sabo that her testimony could be seen as an admission of perjury and could land her seven years in prison. She was in fact arrested from the witness stand, but for a bounced check from a different state, being served with an insufficient warrant by out of state New Jersey State Troopers.
Despite the police harassment, and a review of her entire criminal history on the witness stand, including her life as a prostitute, Jones brought her children to court to learn from her mistakes. She explained that she was relieved to be setting things straight because what she did to Mumia with her false testimony had been eating her up inside over all those years.
On the stand, admitting to perjury, Jones explained that she was awaiting trial for an unrelated robbery charge in 1982 when police detectives approached her in her cell offering to give her a deal by changing her story as a witness in Mumia’s case. She had originally stated that she heard two shots, looked around the corner, and saw two men running from the scene. The two men running fit the version of William Singletary where he saw someone else shoot Mumia and run, but it didn’t fit the police/prosecution story being woven against Mumia.
She explained that the deal offered by the police was that she could go to prison for five to ten years and lose custody of her two young children or she could get out of the predicament by lying for the police saying that nobody was running from the scene.
Despite the importance of the testimony of Veronica Jones in Mumia’s case, both in corroborating eyewitnesses who say the actual killer or killers ran from the scene, and as another witness testifying to a clear pattern of police intimidation to acquire falsified testimony, Judge Sabo ruled in 1996 against her testimony being heard by a new jury trial.
Likewise, in the original trial, Sabo ruled in favor of prosecution objections when Veronica Jones was already admitting to being the target of the police in their attempts at gaining false testimony:
"I had got locked up [together with other prostitutes] I think it was in January . […] I think sometime after that incident. They were getting on me telling me I was in the area and I seen Mumia, you know, do it, intentionally. They were trying to get me to say something that the other girl [Cynthia White] said. I couldn’t do that."
As Jackson continued this questioning, Veronica Jones said, “we had brought up Cynthia [White]’s name and they told us we can work the area [as prostitutes] if we tell them [what the police wanted to hear].” At this point Judge Sabo ruled in favor of prosecutor McGill’s objections and would only allow further questions of Veronica Jones on what she saw the night of the shooting. As from the beginning of the trial, ruling after ruling has declared police misconduct is not open to scrutiny and a court of law is no place for evidence of Mumia’s innocence.
So it is established, with her contradictory stories, that Cynthia White was not telling the truth. This would be bad enough. But, in fact, none of the nine eyewitnesses who testified at the trial and subsequent hearings can remember seeing Cynthia White at the immediate scene at all. None, this includes the other prosecution witnesses.
William Singletary states that he saw her earlier down the street. When he saw her she said, “Hey, how you doing? It's cold out here.” Then noticing his car she said “a brand-new Cadillac Eldorado, 1982 model, wow, that's a great car! You ain't that bad-looking either. But I don't date black guys.” To which Singletary says he responded, “And I don't date prostitutes.” Singletary says that she then walked down the street and didn’t actually see the shooting. ("Witness: Abu-Jamal didn't do it" Philadelphia Daily News Dec. 8, 2006)
In fact, Cynthia White confessed to both Pamela Jenkins and Yvette Williams that she did not see the shooting and that the police put the screws to her to lie. In addition, a mountain of testimony shows a clear pattern by the police to try to get similar perjured testimony from other people.
In a hearing after the trial, Pamela Jenkins testified, “I know that Cynthia White worked as a prostitute in the Center City area, specifically at Locust and 13th Street, during 1980 and 1981, and that she was a prostitute, police informant, and turned tricks for the police officers in the district.”
If in fact Cynthia White was a police informant, and this information was withheld from the defense by the prosecution, that alone would be legal grounds for a new trial, but it gets much worse.
Jenkins testified at hearings in 1997 that Police Officer Thomas Ryan tried to make her testify that she saw Mumia shoot Officer Faulkner at the original trial, even though she was not at the scene of the shooting. Jenkins, 15 and a prostitute, was the girlfriend of Officer Ryan at that time. She also testified that she worked both as a prostitute for the police and as a police informant for the corrupt Center City Police.
Jenkins also testified that Cynthia White told her in late 1981 that she was also being pressured to testify against Mumia, and that White was afraid for her life. In a signed affidavit Jenkins states,
“Tom Ryan, Richard Ryan and other police officers pressured me and asked me if I had seen the shooting of the police officer and whether I had been in the area of the shooting that night. When I said 'no' they pressured (me) some more and asked me was I really sure that I hadn't been on the street that night and seen the shooting. It was clear to me that Tom Ryan and Richard Ryan wanted me to perjure myself and say that I had seen Jamal shoot the police officer."
Despite showing a clear intention by the police to frame Mumia, no jury has been allowed to hear Jenkins’ testimony in Mumia’s case. Not only is Pamela Jenkin's testimony essential evidence of a deliberate police conspiracy to frame Mumia by manufacturing perjured evidence, it also helps to destroy the testimony of the prosecution’s star witness, Cynthia White.
Jenkins' credibility has, however, been bolstered by the fact that she was a key witness used to unravel the massive police corruption in Center City District. Her testimony was instrumental in reversing the decisions of hundreds of cases of people thrown in prison through corrupt tactics and helped lead to the removal of the entire team of cops that led the “investigation” of Mumia’s case due to their corruption and mob connections. Unfortunately, what has overturned many other convictions is not being applied to the case of political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Other eyewitnesses have said the same thing as Jenkins. In a signed affidavit Yvette Williams has stated,
“I was in jail with Cynthia White in December of 1981 after Police Officer Daniel Faulkner was shot and killed. Cynthia White told me the police were making her lie and say she saw Mr. Jamal shoot Officer Faulkner when she really did not see who did it.”
Later in the Affidavit Yvette Williams states,
“When Lucky [Cynthia White] told me she didn’t even see who shot Officer Faulkner, I asked her why she was “lying on that man” [Mumia Abu-Jamal]. She told me it was because for the police and vice threatened her life. Additionally, the police were giving her money for tricks. “The way she talked, we were talking “G’s” [,000.00]. She also said she was terrified of what the police would do to her if she didn’t say that Mumia shot Officer Faulkner. According to Lucky, the police told her they would consolidate all her cases and send her “up” (Muncy), a women’s prison, for a long time if she didn’t testify to what they told her to say. Lucky told me she had a lot of open cases and out-of-state warrants and was scared of going to Muncy. She was scared that her pimp “would get pissed off” at all the money he was losing when she was locked up, and off the street. She was afraid that when she got out he would beat her up or kill her.”
According to legal papers filed by the defense,
“in the days after the shooting, [White] was arrested at least twice for prostitution. Her picture was posted in the 6th District with instructions for arresting officers to 'Contact Homicide'. Each time police picked White up and took her statement, she revised her story [on Faulkner's shooting]. Without explanation, bench warrants against her were not prosecuted.”
Pamela Jenkins has publicly asked Cynthia White to tell the truth stating:
“We know we can bring this down to a nutshell if you just come forward. We've all lost a lot by coming forward, I've lost somebody I love dearly... Just do it this one time, one favor, that's not asking a lot. Then maybe you can clean up your past, like the rest of us are doing.”
The prosecution does seem to be afraid of Cynthia White coming forward to tell the truth, and have presented false testimony of evidence that she is dead. In a hearing in Judge Sabo’s court, a Philadelphia police detective testified that the FBI had "authenticated" that a corpse had the same fingerprints as White. Yet the DA withheld the fingerprints at that time. When they finally produced them for the now cremated corpse, they didn’t match the fingerprints of Cynthia White.
Cynthia White’s own mother stated that the same corpse was not Cynthia White. Other eyewitnesses, that the defense attempted to have testify, testimony denied by Judge Sabo, had seen Cynthia White alive and walking around during the time she was supposed to be dead. Yet instead of hearing defense witnesses that stated that Cynthia White was alive, the only testimony Sabo would allow was the false testimony of the Philadelphia detective claiming “authenticated” fingerprints. Sabo snapped, “As far as I’m concerned she’s dead. I’m making a ruling. We’re finished.” Evidence has never meant much in Judge Sabo’s court, if the prosecution says she’s dead, she’s dead.
Judge Sabo was in fact heard by court reporter, Terri Maurer-Carter, telling another person during the time of Mumia’s trial saying, “I’ll help you fry the nigger”.
Besides Cynthia White, the only other “eyewitness” who said he saw Mumia kill Officer Faulkner was Robert Chobert.
Robert Chobert, a convicted arsonist who was driving on a suspended license and was on felony probation at the time of the shooting, has also recanted his testimony according to a sworn statement by prize winning investigator Mark Newman.
At the time of Mumia’s trial, Chobert was on felony probation for the firebombing of a school. Revocation of that probation could have meant over 20 years in prison. Chobert was in fact violating that probation by unlawfully driving his taxi on a suspended license that night. Thus, Chobert would have been easily manipulated by the police and/or by the prosecution.
Under penalty of perjury, Mike Newman stated in a signed affidavit that, “Chobert told me that he did not see anyone standing over a prone Officer Faulkner, firing shots at the officer. Chobert said that what actually happened was that he was sitting in his taxi when he heard gunfire.” And that he did not actually see the shooting.
According to that signed affidavit of Mike Newman, Chobert didn't see Mumia shoot Faulkner, wasn't parked behind Faulkner as he said he was at the trial, and that Chobert gave the police the false testimony they wanted in order to avoid having his parole revoked.
Physical evidence, as well as eyewitness testimony, proves that Chobert's cab was not parked behind Faulkner's as Chobert claimed in court. This evidence includes 31 photos taken by photojournalist Pedro Polakoff just minutes after the shooting. These photos clearly show that Chobert's cab was not parked behind Faulkner’s police car as Chobert had claimed in court.
That new evidence corroborated the testimony of Mike Newman when he stated, "Chobert told me that on December 9, 1981, he had actually been parked, in his taxi, on 13th Street, north of Locust (contradicting his trial testimony that he was parked behind Officer Faulkner's police car on Locust St., east of 13th Street.)" This is also relevant to Chobert not having the vantage for seeing the shooting.
Newman’s testimony is also corroborated by Chobert’s legal troubles and a clear pattern by the police to offer similar deals to other witnesses including three eyewitnesses, Pamela Jenkins, William Singletary, and Veronica Jones, stating publicly, and Cynthia White also stating privately, that they were coerced, threatened, or otherwise offered deals by the cops to give false testimony.
In fact Robert Chobert revealed at a 1995 PCRA hearing that Prosecutor McGill, while recognizing that Chobert had been driving on a suspended license at the time of the killing, had indicated that rather than prosecuting for the violation, he had promised to "look into" how Chobert could get his license reinstated. This would allow Chobert to continue his job as a taxi driver and kept him out of trouble for a parole violation. On the stand Chobert admitted that he believed McGill was intending to assist him. Yet information of a deal was not only wrongfully withheld from the jury, McGill mislead the jury further by asking, "What motivation would Robert Chobert have to make up a story?" So the jury was never allowed to hear that a deal was made with Chobert and Prosecutor McGill felt free to lie.
The police officer who got the “identification” of Mumia from Robert Chobert was Alfonzo Giordano. In the original police report Robert Chobert is said by Giordano to say it was the guy from MOVE that did it. Giordano was removed from the force and prosecuted for corruption related to the mob, a corruption probe that turned over many other police/prosecution convictions. In addition, Giordano had been involved in political operations against Philadelphia MOVE and the Black Panther Party. As such, Giordano would have instantly recognized Mumia, a former Black Panther and an independent journalist who had exposed police wrong doing against MOVE.
In a revealing set of moves, Giordano was never called as a witness at Mumia’s trial. This despite Giordano providing testimony at Mumia’s preliminary hearing of a “confession” in the van, despite his being the senior officer at the scene, despite his supposed firsthand identification of a witness, and despite his testimony of finding the “murder weapon”. During the trial Giordano was removed from active duty and assigned to a desk. The first working day after the trial was over Giordano resigned from the Philadelphia police force. In 1986 Giordano copped a plea on federal charges based on receiving tens of thousands of dollars in illegal payoffs during the 1979-80 period but didn’t spend any time in jail.
In addition to Giordono’s corruption, under racist Police Chief Frank Rizzo, Giordono was in charge of the Stake Out Unit of the Philadelphia Police that carried out repression against the Black Panther Party from 1968 –1970. Giordono also played a supervisory role in the 1977-78 police barricade and attack on the MOVE organization under Mayor Frank Rizzo. That police attack had followed earlier murders by the Philadelphia police of MOVE members and followed a long starvation blockade by the Philadelphia Police against the MOVE headquarters. In the police attack two MOVE members were shot, nine MOVE members were framed by the Philadelphia Police, MOVE children were stolen, and, as film footage shows, Delbert Africa was kicked and stomped by the police as he lay on the ground. In addition, Officer Ramp was shot and killed.
While nine MOVE members were railroaded to prison for the death of Officer Ramp, the evidence does not fit. The one bullet that killed Ramp came from behind and had a downward trajectory. Yet Ramp was facing the MOVE headquarters where MOVE members were in the basement and any bullets would have had an upward trajectory and hit him from in front.
Presiding over the kangaroo court that convicted the MOVE 9 was Judge Malmed. Shortly after the trial and conviction of the MOVE 9, Mumia, as an independent journalist, called in to a talk radio show where he asked Judge Malmed, “Who shot James Ramp?” Judge Malmed honestly answered, “I haven’t the faintest idea.”
In the attack on MOVE the police and Mayor Rizzo claimed that the first shots came from the MOVE headquarters, but the independent eyewitnesses including a number of journalists present, confirm what MOVE members and the physical evidence says, that the first shot came from across the street and not from the MOVE headquarters.
At Mayor Frank Rizzo’s victory press conference on the 1978 police attack, Frank Rizzo directly threatened Mumia Abu-Jamal when Mumia asked him a question. Mumia was present as a freelance journalist and asked the gloating Rizzo, “What about the brutality?” Instead of answering Mumia’s question Rizzo responded angrily with a threat: “They believe what you write, and what you say, and it's got to stop. And one day, and I hope it's in my career, that you're going to have to be held responsible and accountable for what you do.”
In addition to commanding this attack against MOVE, Giordono, earlier, then under Police Chief Rizzo, carried out surveillance of leftists including the Black Panther Party.
With Mumia having been a former member of the Black Panther Party and a high profile critic of police actions against MOVE, there is no question that officer Giordono would have instantly recognized Mumia at the crime scene. This would be one of the motives for Giordono to want to falsify testimony and other evidence to pin the murder on Mumia.
Giordono rode with Officer Trombetta with Mumia in the van to the hospital after Mumia had been shot and beaten by the police. Inspector Alfonso Giordano, this senior officer on the scene in charge of the Mumia “investigation”, reported that on that van ride Mumia had confessed to shooting Faulkner. Yet, Officer Trembetta was with Mumia during that entire van ride and, in direct contradiction to Giordano’s claim of a confession, reported that Mumia made no comment. With the van confession discredited, the prosecution manufactured new accounts of a confession at the hospital which were used during the trial. Those accounts have been thoroughly discredited by a number of eyewitnesses, yet the courts have refused to put that evidence in front of a jury as well. Giordano was removed from the Philadelphia Police and prosecuted for corruption immediately after Mumia’s trial.
A number of other well-known political frame-ups have occurred in the United States. The prosecution of Mumia fits the pattern of the FBI’s COINTELPRO program against the Black Panther Party (BPP), where local law enforcement worked with the FBI in murdering some BPP leaders in cold blood, such as Fred Hampton in Chicago, and knowingly framed and prosecuted other innocent BPP members, such as Geronimo ji Jagga in LA who spent 30 years in prison before he was exonerated of the false charges against him and freed.
A possible additional possible double motive for framing Mumia can be found in the confession of Arnold Beverly. Beverly stated, “I was hired, along with another guy, and paid to shoot and kill Faulkner. I had heard that Faulkner was a problem for the mob and corrupt policemen because he interfered with the graft and payoffs made to allow illegal activity including prostitution, gambling, drugs without prosecution in the center city area.”
Beverly’s testimony is corroborated by, among other things, police corruption, three separate FBI investigations of police corruption in the Center City area at the time, evidence of fear that Faulkner was an FBI informant, evidence that Faulkner was an FBI informant, and the murder of other witnesses involved in cases against the Center City Police at that time. One of those murders was of Bertram Schlein, an eyewitness who testified against Central Division Chief John DeBenedetto. A suspect in that murder was Kenneth Schwartz, a former police officer and reported associate of Inspector Alfonzo Giordono.
A former Philadelphia Police Officer turned mob hit man, Ronald Previte, has testified as a government informant on mob killings. Previte stated that during his ten years as a Philadelphia cop he “learned more about being a crook” than any other time in his life.
If the police were in fact involved in the murder of Police Officer Faulkner, this would mean that they would not be interested in finding the actual killer. They would want to pin the murder on someone else, and who better in the eyes of Giordano than his journalistic critic, Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Whatever the exact motive or motives, the mountain of police, prosecutorial, and judicial misconduct in this case proves that the criminal “justice” system both had (and has) no interest in finding the real killer or killers while at the same time desiring to imprison and execute an innocent man.
Despite great personal cost, William Singletary stuck to his story and told the truth. He stands as an exemplary fighter in the struggle for justice.
The Revolutionary Tendency of the Socialist Party (RT-SP) demands: Freedom for all political prisoners including Mumia Abu-Jamal! And we call for an end to the corrupt, repressive, and brutal police occupations of communities of color throughout the United States through the abolition of all current police forces and the building of new ones controlled by the people through a new revolutionary proletarian democracy. Join the RT-SP.
For more information on the RT-SP see:
For more information on what you can work for Mumia’s freedom, see:
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