Three of Malcom X’s daughters joined nationally known civil rights attorney Ben Crump at a press conference Saturday where relatives of a former New York police officer read a letter that alleged the New York Police Department and the FBI covered up details of the assassination.
The family and their lawyers said the letter provides new evidence about the assassination, which has long interested scholars and activists.
The letter was written in 2011 by Raymond Wood, a NYPD officer who was on duty the day Malcolm X was killed in 1965. He wrote that he was coerced into enticing members of Malcolm X’s security team to commit crimes so they could be arrested days before the assassination.
Raymond Wood wrote that he “participated in actions that in hindsight were deplorable and detrimental to the advancement of my own Black people.” The letter was read aloud Saturday by family member Reginald Wood Jr.
“It was my assignment to draw the two men into a felonious federal crime so that they could be arrested by the FBI and kept away from managing Malcolm X’s door security on Feb. 21, 1965,” Wood wrote. “At that time, I was not aware that Malcolm X was the target.”
Malcolm X was killed in Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom on Feb. 21, 1965, by gunmen who opened fire during a speaking engagement. Three men — Muhammad Aziz, Mujahid Abdul Halim and Khalil Islam — were convicted of killing the civil rights leader and sentenced to life in prison. Aziz and Islam had long denied they were connected to any plot to kill Malcolm X, and Halim had said the two were not involved.
Some experts say the investigation into the killing was botched and question whether law enforcement knew about the assassination plot beforehand because the FBI and the New York Police Department had Malcolm X under surveillance at the time of his death, according to the New York Times.
Reginald Wood Jr. said Saturday that Raymond Wood revealed his participation after he was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2011 and wanted to make the letter public after his death, fearing possible repercussions from authorities. He died Nov. 24, 2020.
“He wanted the world to know that he is deeply sorry,” Reginald Wood Jr. said. “I hope that this information helps the Shabazz family to more clearly understand what happened to their father on that horrible day.”
Family attorney Ray Hamlin said the Shabazz family is seeking justice and compensation for the crimes alleged in the letter.
“Any evidence that provides greater insight into the truth behind that terrible tragedy should be thoroughly investigated,” said Ilyasah Shabazz, one of Malcolm X’s daughters.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s office announced in February 2020 after the release of a Netflix series exploring the assassination that it would revisit the 1965 assassination.
“The NYPD has provided all available records relevant to that case to the district attorney,” the department said in a statement to USA TODAY. “The department remains committed to assist with that review in any way.”
The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.