New York Police Department (NYPD) rookie cop Edward Byrne was murdered in cold blood while on the job in 1988, and his family is outraged that yet again his killers are eligible for a parole hearing in November of this year.
Byrne, only 22, was shot in the head on February 26 as he was guarding a home in Jamaica, Queens owned by a family due to provide testimony against local drug gangs. The four drug dealers who were convicted of the crime that sent shockwaves throughout New York and the country were sentenced to 25 years to life, with parole hearings allowed every two years.
The first hearing took place two years ago and the killers were denied parole. However, the Byrne family will have to endure the same ritual every two years, and are hoping for support from the public to ensure that Byrne’s killers remain behind bars for the rest of their lives.
“This is the second time they are up for parole and they will get parole hearings every two years for the rest of their lives. This was such a brutal, brazen crime and they should never get parole,” Byrne’s brother Larry, newly appointed NYPD deputy commissioner for legal matters, told the Irish Voice.
Byrne is urging members of the public to visit www.nycpba.org, a link that will allow visitors to tell the New York State Parole Board to keep cop killers in jail. Byrne’s name is listed four times – once for each of the assassins found guilty of his murder. There is a comments section for people to show support for the Byrne family and their goal of keeping the killers in jail forever.
Stricter New York State sentencing guidelines mean that cop killers can now be sentenced to life behind bars without parole, but when Byrne was murdered the maximum sentence was only 25 years to life, with parole hearings every two years. Larry Byrne says it’s important that people make their feelings known to the Parole Board not only to guarantee that his brother’s killers are denied release in November, but in the years ahead as well.
“This Parole Board today can influence, but it can’t determine, what a board can do in 20 or 30 or 40 years,” Byrne told the Irish Voice two years ago before the killers’ first hearing.
“Someone on the board 20 or 30 years from now will never have heard of Eddie Byrne, wouldn’t know how dangerous the city was in the 1980s, and would have been born long after my brother was killed.”
On Tuesday, Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced that his office has submitted an initial batch of petitions containing 2,876 signatures to the Parole Board urging that it deny early parole release for Byrne’s killers.
“Given the brutality of the crime for which these four men stand convicted, they should serve the maximum sentence imposed – life in prison – as a clear message that we, as a society, will never forget their ruthless and cowardly acts. They should never be allowed to taste freedom again as a fitting memorial to Officer Byrne and for the safety and well-being of all law-abiding citizens,” Brown said.
Eddie and Larry Byrne’s grandfather was a native of Co. Wicklow. Their father was a member of the NYPD for 22 years.