The killers made videotaped confessions and bragged about gunning down a cop. They were easily captured days after the murder in the biggest manhunt that the NYPD ever conducted, partly because they “celebrated” their crime with so many others.
“One guy described vividly how they stood there over the car they killed my brother in, and laughed about what they had done. Then they all went out to celebrate and have a big meal, and they all went out and treated themselves to victory gifts,” Byrne says.
Though the trauma will remain with Byrne and his family for the rest of their lives, he is quick to point out that his brother’s killing is one of the reasons why New York City is today a much safer place than it was back in the 1980s when drug and gun crime was much more rampant.
“Today we live in one of the largest safe cities, and there’s no question in my mind that one of the catalysts that made that happen was what happened to my brother,” says Byrne.
“It caused people to stand up and say, if a cop in uniform with a gun in a police car can be assassinated then none of us are safe, so we have to do something about this.”
The football field at Plainedge High School has been renamed in Eddie’s honor, as has a public school in the Bronx. A federal law enforcement program, the Edward Byrne Awards Program, has given millions of dollars to local police departments to buy equipment to fight gangs and drugs.
“That gives my parents some comfort, some peace of mind,” Byrne says.
What will further ease their pain is a positive outcome from the Parole Board. The Byrne family is due to appear before the board next month, and each of the four killers, scattered throughout New York State in various prisons, will also have a hearing. A final ruling is expected by March of next year.
“There’s something very strong the Parole Board can do. They can say if you use a gun to kill someone you are going to spend the rest of your life in prison, and we are never going to let you out,” Byrne says.
“And when that message gets out maybe people will stop using guns to kill people.”
(A letter recommending life in jail without parole for defendants David McClary, Ind. No: 1662/88, NYSID# 06077561Y, DIN# 89-A-7511; Defendant Scott Cobb, Ind. No: 1662/88, NYSID# 04477037K, DIN# 89-A-6910; Defendant Todd Scott, Ind. No: 1662/88, NYSID# 05620912Q, DIN# 89-A-8015; Defendant Phillip “Marshall” Copeland, Ind. No: 1662/88, NYSID# 05615688H, DIN# 89-A-5229 can be sent to the NYS Department of Correction & Community Supervision, The Office of Victim Assistance, The Harriman State Campus Building 2, 1220 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12226-2050.)