The mastermind behind the murderous 1981 Brinks robbery in which two Nyack police officers and an armored car guard were killed was released for health reasons from federal prison on Friday after nearly 38 years behind bars.
Mutulu Shakur, 72, known mostly as the stepfather of slain rapper Tupac Shakur and brother of fellow Black Liberation Army member Joanne Chesimard, had been denied parole since 2016 and earlier in 2022. He is terminally ill.
Based on his health, the U.S. Parole Commission granted his early release from a 60-year sentence effective Friday after 442 months behind bars, according to a document released to The Journal News/lohud.com.
The commission had granted Mutulu Shakur parole on Nov. 10 following an October hearing.
A federal judge had sentenced Shakur, who led the Black Liberation Army and the Republic of New Afrika movement, to prison in 1988 for operating a criminal enterprise, including a string of armed robberies like Rockland Brinks in 1981, among other charges.
The commission's release of Shakur states, "After careful consideration of this new and favorable information, the Commission finds your medical condition has significantly deteriorated since your last hearing in April 2022 and ... we now find your medical condition renders you so infirm of mind and body that you are no longer physically capable of committing any Federal, State or local crime."
Killed by a heavily armed gang of self-professed revolutionaries on Oct. 20, 1981, were Nyack Police Sgt. Edward O'Grady and Officer Waverly "Chipper" Brown. The officers were killed at a roadblock to the New York State Thruway in Nyack.
The gunmen had killed Brinks guard Peter Paige at the former Nanuet Mall when stealing $1.6 million from the armored car. His partner, Joseph Trombino, was seriously wounded. Trombino was among the thousands killed on Sept. 11, 2001, at the World Trade Center terrorist bombing.
Although the government abolished federal parole in the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, Shakur's convictions were exempt because the act's provisions did not take effect until 1987. Under the rules at the time of his conviction, Shakur was due for a mandatory parole determination after serving 30 years of his 60-year sentence.
Shakur, a Harlem-based acupuncturist, was arrested by the FBI in California on Feb. 12, 1986, after nearly six years as a fugitive. He was added to the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List.
Shakur and Rockland Brinks getaway driver Marilyn Jean Buck were convicted on May 11, 1988. Buck, who served more than two decades in prison, died at 62 from uterine cancer in 2010 at her Brooklyn home. She has been released from prison for medical reasons.
On a website that bears his name and provides photographs along with his political views, Shakur refers to himself as a political prisoner and has taken "full responsibility for crimes involved in my conviction."
The website announced Shakur's release on Friday.
"Family & Friends of Mutulu Shakur (FFMS) is greatly appreciative of everyone’s support over the course of Mutulu’s decades in prison," the website statement said. "We ask that everyone respect Dr. Shakur’s privacy while he spends the holidays with his family and concentrates on his health and healing."
The families of the men killed in Rockland opposed the release of Shakur and other Brinks participants. Those include Kathy Boudin, who died in May of cancer after being paroled in 2003 following 22 years in prison for her role in the Brinks robbery-murders. Other Brinks convicts released on parole were Judith Clark in 2019 and David Gilbert in October.
"We've gotten word that he's been denied," said Michael Paige said of Shakur in 2018. Paige is a New Jersey attorney and one of Peter Paige's two sons. "He's where he belongs, in prison, hopefully for the rest of his life. He's responsible for killing my father and two other brave men."
"When my father and Officers O'Grady and Brown walk out of their graves, he can get a second chance," Paige said of Shakur.
Rockland County Executive Ed Day, a former NYPD commander, condemned Shakur's release. Day said the release "is disrespectful and horribly insulting to the families of those who have been killed who can only see their loved ones at a gravesite.”
“How can a compassionate release be granted for someone who played a role in callously killing three people?" Day said in a news release. "Once someone is murdered, they are gone forever and this individual, Mutulu Shakur, is responsible for not one, not two, but three deaths which included two police officers and a security guard.".
The conditions for Shakur's release from a federal prison in California include not contacting the families of the men killed in Rockland in 1981 and not contacting his sister.
Also known as Assata Shakur, Chesimard was convicted of killing New Jersey state trooper Werner Foerster during a 1973 shootout. She's been living in Cuba under the protection of the Castro regime since 1984 after her fellow self-proclaimed revolutionaries successfully freed her from prison in 1979. She's on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List.
This article originally appeared on Rockland/Westchester Journal News: Mutulu Shakur, Tupac's stepfather, Brinks robbery leader, out of prison