The left-wing congresswomen known as the “Squad” are renewing their calls for the abolition of the death penalty after the execution this week of a convicted Alabama cop killer who was killed for his role in the murders of three cops in a suspected drug house in 2004.
“Abolish the death penalty,” tweeted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., after the execution of Nathaniel Woods.
“No one should take the life of another,” Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., tweeted. “That includes the government.”
Woods was executed by lethal injection on Thursday for his participation in the brutal murders of three police officers in 2004 in Birmingham, Ala.: Carlos Owen, Harley A. Chisolm III and Charles R. Bennett.
The three officers were shot by Kerry Spencer, who opened fire with a high-powered rifle when they tried to serve a misdemeanor domestic assault warrant on Woods. Woods was convicted as an accomplice, with prosecutors arguing that he lured the officers into the house and was an active participant who pointed to one of the officers so Spencer could shoot him.
Testimony cited by state Attorney General Steve Marshall in a letter to Gov. Kay Ivey urging her not to give Woods a reprieve said that Woods was found after the killings with bullets in his pocket and was “very relaxed.” He is also said to have written to one of the officer's widows: "I will forgive, but I [won't] forget."
“The evidence adduced at trial clearly shows that while Woods may not have pulled the trigger, he was a full participant in the officer slayings,” Marshall said.
Woods is also said to have bragged that he and Spencer “shot their a--es” and an adaptation of a rap song was later found in his cell in his handwriting that included the lines: “I have no remorse because I’m the f---in murderer; Haven’t you ever heard of a killa; I drop pigs like Kerry Spencer.”
He was convicted of four counts of capital murder; three counts of intentionally causing the death of a police officer in the line of duty, and one of killing two or more persons pursuant to one scheme or course of conduct.
Activists, family members, Democrats and celebrities such as Kim Kardashian West called on Ivey to stay the execution -- pointing to the fact he was not the shooter, and also statements by Spencer that he was solely responsible for the shooting.
“He is actually innocent,” Woods' sister, Pamela Woods, had told reporters outside the prison earlier Thursday. “Kerry Spencer the actual shooter has stated many times that he did it on his own with no help for anyone."
Ivey did not stay the execution and laid out her reasons why in a lengthy statement: "A jury of Mr. Woods’ peers convicted him of four counts of capital murder. In the past 15 years, his conviction has been reviewed at least nine times, and no court has found any reason to overturn the jury’s decision."
Family members of the officers described in statements how their lives had been shattered by the murders of their loved ones.
“Nathaniel Woods chose his fate on June 17, 2004. That horrific day could have been prevented if he had any kind of compassion or respect for law enforcement," Starr Sidelinker said in reading a statement on behalf of Chisholm's sister.
Greg Owen, the son of officer Owen, said in a written statement that his father was a 58-year-old grandfather who only wanted to protect people in the city where he grew up.
“Instead of going home that day, he was ambushed, murdered and died on the floor of a filthy drug house," Greg Owen wrote.
But Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., accused Alabama of having “murdered an innocent man” and spoke of the “trauma” inflicted on the family of the convicted cop killer.
“The #trauma inflicted on #NathanielWoods’ family will last for generations,” she said. “We need a system that centers shared power, freedom, equality, safety & dignity.”
Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., meanwhile retweeted her colleagues, as well as activist Shaun King who said he was “crushed Nate experienced this grizzly injustice” and claimed he “broke no laws, at all.” Pressley linked to a bill she had introduced last year that would ban the use of the death penalty.
Spencer is also on death row, but no execution date has been set.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.