Picks and Pans Review: Mumia Abu-Jamal: a Case for Reasonable Doubt?

UPDATED 07/22/1996 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 07/22/1996 at 01:00 AM EDT

HBO (Tues., July 23, 9:45 p.m. ET; Fri, July 26, 3:15 p.m. ET)


This hour-long documentary examines the controversy surrounding the African-American journalist and activist Mumia Abu-Jamal, who is on death row for the 1982 murder of Philadelphia policeman Daniel Faulkner. Citing forensic experts recruited by the producers, the program accuses the police of shoddy investigative work and unexplained discrepancies concerning the murder weapon. There are also allegations that a prostitute who claimed to have seen another man fleeing the crime scene was coerced by the police into changing her testimony, and that the authorities suppressed a second eyewitness's account vindicating Jamal. The police, for their part, counter that Jamal was undeniably shot by the dying policeman and that a gun registered in Jamal's name was found at the murder scene. Although the program features an interview with Jamal from death row, he never actually says in his own words what happened that evening. Curiously, the producers let this oddity skate right by. Denied a retrial last year, Jamal awaits the results of his latest appeal. Although the program purports to settle the case in Jamal's favor, not every viewer will be convinced. But many will agree that a new trial is warranted.

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