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      Ex-Black Panther Who Killed NJ Tropper Freed From Jail Wednesday

      Posted by Sarah Salvadore on Friday, May 27, 2022 Under: #EssexCounty
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      © AP Photo/Julio Cortez, FileA portrait of New Jersey State Police trooper Werner Foerster is displayed during an event unveiling a monument in his honor, Nov. 18, 2015, in East Brunswick, N.J.

      EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ — Sundiata Acoli, former Black Panther and Black Liberation Army activist, who was convicted of murdering state trooper Werner Foerster, was released Wednesday after nearly 50 years in prison.

      On May 10, the New Jersey Supreme Court ordered parole for Acoli, who was turned down eight times since becoming eligible in 1993.

      "Sundiata Acoli walked out of prison into the arms of his family and loved ones. As you can imagine, after 49 years, Mr. Acoli is finally able to spend time with his family and we want to make sure we respect these precious moments," the Bring Sundiata Acoli Home Alliance said in a statement.

      Acoli moved in with his daughter in Brooklyn, NY, according to reports.

      The court ruled 3-2 to reverse the state parole board's decision to deny Acoli parole. The majority opinion said the state's parole board failed to show that Acoli, 85, would commit another crime after release. Read More: Ex-Black Panther, NJ Cop Killer, To Be Freed

      At the time, Gov. Phil Murphy and Acting AG Matthew Platkin released statements saying they were disappointed with the court's ruling.

      About midnight on May 2, 1973, Acoli, born Clark Edward Squire, along with Joanne Chesimard (now known as Assata Shakur) and Zayd Malik Shakur were driving on the Turnpike in the East Brunswick area, when they were pulled over for a broken tail light by Trooper James Harper. All three were armed. Harper was soon joined by Trooper Foerster.

      Harper called Foerster for backup after discovering Acoli had a gun, according to reports. A gun battle ensued that left Harper wounded and Foerster and Malik Shakur dead.

      Details of the shooting still remain debated, with police saying Acoli fired first. He maintained he was shot, lost consciousness and does not remember what happened that night, according to court records.

      The court's decision did not focus on Acoli's guilt or innocence, but rather on the parole board's assessment of his case.

      "No member of the Court disputes that Acoli committed a horrific crime. The issue, however, is whether Acoli, after nearly five decades of imprisonment, has satisfied the statutory demands that govern his parole eligibility," Justice Barry Albin wrote for the majority.

      Thank you for reading. Have a correction or news tip? Email sarah.salvadore@patch.com

      In : #EssexCounty 

      Tags: ex-black panther who killed nj tropper freed from jail wednesday 
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