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Mumia Abu-Jamal: A Case for Reasonable Doubt? - documentary DVD review
Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rating: 4 stars
Featuring: Mumia Abu-Jamal, Marlene Sanders
Director: John Edginton   Studio: New Video Group
DVD release: 24 June 2008   Runtime: 74 min. (1 disc)
Format: Color, DVD-Video, NTSC
DVD Features: Audio tracks (English - Dolby Digital Stereo), Subtitles (English), Never-before-seen extended prison interview with Mumia Abu-Jamal, Filmmaker biography, Theatrical trailer

Mumia Abu-Jamal was a Philadelphia cab driver in 1981. While on the job one night, he saw that his brother had been stopped by the police. Mumia pulled over to see what was up. What happened at this point is vague. Several witnesses have subtly different stories, and Mumia is saving his story until he can get back into court. What happened for sure is that Police Officer Daniel Faulkner was shot and killed, and Mumia himself was shot. Faulkner and Abu- Jamal were taken to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. When the dust settled, Abu-Jamal found himself charged with murder.

Several things make him seem a good suspect. He had a gun at the time (he'd been robbed a number of times while driving cab). He was at the scene, and the assumption was that Faulkner shot him in defense. He was a member of the Black Panthers (though it was nearly twenty years prior).

Several more things make him a bad suspect. The angle of the wound Abu-Jamal received was inconsistent with a defensive shot. The bullet pulled from Faulkner may not have been from Abu-Jamal's weapon (the ballistics were not paid much attention) - it's unclear whether Mumia's weapon was even fired. A confession was allegedly heard at the hospital by Faulkner's partner, though it wasn't recalled until two months later. Several witnesses have come forward to say they saw people running from the scene. One witness has come forward to say she was let off of other charges if she'd support the police's version of the story.

It's hard to tell what happened. For sure, A Case for Reasonable Doubt? is designed to tell Abu-Jamal's side of the story. If Faulkner's side of the story is told in another documentary, I'd like to see that as well. What I can tell you is that Mumia Abu-Jamal should have a new trial, a competent trial, but it seems like the judge who originally sat the trial, Albert F. Sabo keeps standing in the way.

The interviews with Abu-Jamal himself indicate that he is an intelligent man, a journalist, a black activist, and especially a human who deserves a closer look by authorities who can't seem to get past the cop-killer moniker that clouds their judgment.
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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