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Black Men Awarded $36 Million After Wrongfully Convicted in Malcolm X's Killing

Two Black men will be awarded $36 million in a lawsuit settlement after being exonerated last year in the 1965 assassination of Malcolm X.

David Shanies, an attorney representing Muhammad Aziz and Khalil Islam, confirmed Sunday that the City of New York agreed on $26 million for the wrongful convictions, according to the Associated Press. An additional $10 million will be awarded to the two men by the state of New York.

“Muhammed Aziz, Khalil Islam, and their families suffered because of these unjust convictions for more than 50 years,” Shanies said. “The City recognized the grave injustices done here, and I commend the sincerity and speed with which the Comptroller’s Office and the Corporation Counsel moved to resolve the lawsuits.”

Now 84, Aziz spent two decades in prison following his conviction in March of 1966 of the civil rights activist. At the time, he was 26 years old, leaving behind six young children.

Aziz shared his first-degree murder charges with codefendant, Khalil Islam, who died in 2009. Despite the lack of physical evidence, conflicting statements from prosecution witnesses and a third defendant who took the witness stand to confess to his role, the men were deemed Malcolm X’s killers for more than half a century.

In 2021, according to ABC News, the convictions were dismissed by a Manhattan judge, citing “newly discovered evidence and the failure to disclose exculpatory evidence.”

After the decision, Aziz filed a lawsuit against New York City for $40 million.

“While I do not need this court, these prosecutors, or a piece of paper to tell me I am innocent, I am glad that my family, my friends, and the attorneys who have worked and supported me all these years are finally seeing the truth we have all known officially recognized,” Aziz said at the exoneration hearing, according to the Innocence Project.

“…I hope the same system that was responsible for this travesty of justice also take(s) responsibility for the immeasurable harm it caused me,” he said.


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