Who Killed Malcolm X? posits that two of the three men convicted in Malcolm X's assassination were innocent

By Greg Hanlon
February 12, 2020 11:23 AM
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

Prosecutors announced they will reopen the investigation into Malcolm X’s assassination following the release of a docuseries about the 1965 killing.

The six-part Who Killed Malcolm X? first aired on Fusion but began streaming on Netflix last Friday, NPR reports. It posits that two of the three men convicted of the crime were innocent, and were not even present when the civil rights activist was fatally shot while giving a speech in New York City’s Audubon Ballroom.

The Office of Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance will work on the reinvestigation with The Innocence Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people, CNN reports.

“District Attorney Vance has met with representatives from the Innocence Project and associated counsel regarding this matter,” DA spokesman Danny Frost said in a statement. “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.”

Three men were convicted of the crime: Mujahid Abdul Halim (known as Talmadge Hayer and Thomas Hagan), Muhammad Abdul Aziz (known as Norman 3X Butler) and Khalil Islam (known as Thomas 15X Johnson). All were sentenced to life in prison.

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CNN reports Islam and Aziz have always maintained their innocence, and Halim, who admitted to his role in the crime, backed up their claims, saying at his 1966 trial the two men “had nothing to do with it.”

Islam died in 2009 and Aziz and Halim were released on parole.

In the 1970s, Halim named four members of a Nation of Islam mosque in Newark, New Jersey, as co-conspirators, The New York Times reports. Before his killing, Malcolm X had split acrimoniously with the Nation of Islam.

In a statement obtained by CNN, Innocence Project co-founder and special counsel Barry Scheck said, “Given the historical importance of this case and the fact that our client [Aziz] is 81 years old, we are especially encouraged that Mr. Vance has assigned two highly respected prosecutors, Peter Casolaro and Charles King, to work on this re-investigation.”