NYPD officer Edward Byrne
It seems totally preposterous that four animals who proudly shot and killed an Irish American cop in Queens back in 1988 could ever be given the chance to once again prowl the streets, but that’s exactly what could happen when the killers of NYPD Officer Edward Byrne come up for parole later this year.
Byrne, only 22, was assassinated by drug thugs in the early morning hours of February 26, 1988 in Jamaica as he sat in a patrol car, by himself, keeping watch over the home of a brave family planning to testify against local drug gangs that made their streets so terrifying.
Byrne, the grandson of Irish immigrants from Wicklow and the son of a cop, never had a chance. The lowlifes snuck up on his car, distracted him and pumped five bullets into his head before he could ever respond.
The shocking murder of the rookie cop attracted worldwide headlines. New York City was one of the most dangerous large cities in the world at the time, and Byrne’s killing only served to reinforce that fact.
More than 10,000 cops from the U.S. and abroad attended Byrne’s funeral, his grieving parents received a personal call from President Reagan, and the outrage eventually helped to mobilize the political will to finally tackle the rising crime wave throughout New York City.
The reaction of Byrne’s killers to all of the above? Laughter. Joy. Celebration. They killed a young NYPD officer, after all. They were heroes among a certain sub-human species that prizes drugs and guns and lawlessness above all else.
New York State sentencing guidelines at the time tied the judge’s hands, unfortunately, and the assassins were each given terms of 25 years to life. And now they are up for parole.
We strongly urge our readers to stand up and make their voices heard by contacting the New York State Parole Board and urging that these killers never, ever have a chance to see the light of day again.
As Edward Byrne’s brother Larry says in this week’s Irish Voice, the first parole board hearing is especially crucial because, shockingly, the killers will be entitled to a parole review every two years.
The file of letters and comments currently being compiled for the first hearing will have to be reviewed by all subsequent boards, so it’s vital that we all take a few minutes out of our day to let board members know that these cop killers need to stay exactly where they are, with the keys to their cells thrown away for good.
The Byrne family typifies the story of the Irish in America. Work hard for everything you have, play by the rules, contribute back to the society you live in with public service.
But the story of their beloved son and brother, Eddie, had a horribly tragic ending. Imagine the unbearable trauma of suddenly losing a young man in the prime of his life who had goals and hopes and dreams that will never be realized.
The Byrnes will never get parole from the life sentence they’ve had to endure, a life without Eddie. So why should the brutes who gunned him down have even a glimmer of hope that someday they’ll be released?
The good news is that we all have an opportunity to honor Edward Byrne’s sterling memory. You can sign an online petition
posted by the TV station WPIX, or you can write a letter of your own which you can read more about in Page 4 of this week’s issue.
We owe it to the Byrne family, who made the ultimate sacrifice, and we owe it to our city and country to make ourselves heard loud and clear – Police Officer Edward Byrne’s killers must rot in jail for the rest of their miserable lives.