WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
A group that represents U.S. police officers is opposing President Barack Obama's choice for a top civil rights post because he helped represent a man convicted in the 1981 killing of a Philadelphia officer.
The Fraternal Order of Police said in a letter released on Wednesday that the nomination of lawyer Debo Adegbile to head the U.S. Justice Department's civil rights division was "a thumb in the eye" for law enforcement officers.
Adegbile was on the team of lawyers who handled appeals for Mumia Abu-Jamal, who became an internationally recognized death row inmate in a case that stirred debate about the fairness of the U.S. justice system and the application of the death penalty.
Courts upheld Abu-Jamal's conviction for the December 1981 shooting death of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner, but his sentence was reduced to life in prison because of what judges called improper instructions to the jury.
"This nomination can be interpreted in only one way: it is a thumb in the eye of our nation's law enforcement officers," Chuck Canterbury, president of the police group, wrote in the letter addressed to Obama.