Grandchildren of slain NYPD cop help dedicate playground in his memory

Long Island
This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

DEER PARK, N.Y. — NYPD Patrolman Joseph Piagentini was only 28 years old when he was brutally slain with his police partner Waverly Jones in 1971 by members of the Black Liberation Army group.  

Though 48 years have passed, Piagentini’s basketball hoop is still affixed over the family’s garage door in Deer Park, Long Island.

That was just one memory his widow, Diane Piagentini, shared during the dedication of a playground in her late husband’s memory — not far from the home where she raised two daughters, Mary and Deborah.

She explained why there’s a plaque on the playground’s bench that says, “Because I love you.”

Diane Piagentini told a gathering that included Rep. Peter King and PBA President Patrick Lynch that she had given her young husband a watch when they married, engraved on the back with the sentiment, “because I love you.”

“When you take your children to a playground… you remind them, it’s ‘because I love you,’” Piagentini added. 

“Or when you give them a time out, you let them know, it’s ‘because I love you.’”

Piagentini’s daughters and two grandchildren, Aiden and Anastasia, helped the family dedicate the new playground at Fabio Buttitta Memorial Park on Saturday morning.

An NYPD Honor Guard, along with the Emerald Society Pipes and Drums, joined other police widows and retired members of the service to pay their respects.

“Wow. That’s all I can say,” Piagentini marveled, as she surveyed the crowd.

Her husband has been dead nearly half a century, but the double murder case of Piagentini and his partner recently returned to the headlines last year when one of the convicted killers, Herman Bell, was paroled after 45 years in prison.

Later in 2018, a different group of parole board members refused to release the final shooter who remains in prison, Anthony Bottom, now known as Jalil Abdul Mutaqim.

Piagentini told PIX11 she was happy to have something to smile about at the playground dedication.

“My husband was very close with children. He was a gentle man. He loved kids. He played basketball with the neighborhood children,” she said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Long Island Videos

L.I. elementary school gives back for Thanksgiving

LI community comes together to feed homeless before Thanksgiving

‘He told me I was special’: Babylon HS alumni make sex abuse allegations against coaches, teachers

Paws of War helps veterans get training for their dogs

Suffolk DA-elect Ray Tierney talks gangs, guns and bail reform

More Long Island

Connect with PIX11 Online

Connect with PIX11 Online

Trending Stories

Follow us on Facebook

Don't Miss