The four men who fatally gunned down a New York City policeman as he guarded a drug witness in 1988 should never get out of prison, his brother and supporters said Monday.
Larry Byrne, a former assistant federal prosecutor, issued the public plea along with NYPD officers and Sen. Charles Schumer, who also has written a letter to the state parole board. The killers, who are serving 25 years to life in prison, are up for parole for the first time in November.
"The assassination of my brother Eddie was a terrible crime and a terrible tragedy," said Larry Byrne. "In order to protect our city and all police officers in the future, these four convicted murderers should never be granted parole."
The slaying of Officer Edward Byrne, the son of a former police lieutenant, drew the attention of President George H.W. Bush and spurred local and national anti-crime initiatives. About 10,000 uniformed police officers from around the country attended Byrne's funeral.
Byrne was shot as he sat alone in a marked police car in South Jamaica, Queens. The 22-year-old officer was guarding a house that had been firebombed after the resident repeatedly complained about neighborhood drug dealers.
Philip Copeland directed the hit on orders from a jailed drug dealer. Todd Scott distracted Byrne while David McClary shot him five times in the head at point blank range. Scott Cobb was the wheelman.
"This wasn't just a callous, premeditated murder, which in and of itself was so horrible that parole should be flatly denied," said Schumer. "It was a brazen attempt to terrorize both the decent, hard-working people who are the backbone of New York City's neighborhoods and the brave men and women in the law enforcement community who put their lives on the line to protect them."
In the aftermath of the killing, the NYPD, which saw it as a defiant message from the drug world, established teams of undercover officers to sweep dealers off the streets in drug-plagued neighborhoods. A federal police funding program was named in Byrne's memory.
Byrne's father presented then-GOP nominee Bush with his son's police shield during the presidential election campaign. Bush showed the shield to audiences around the country when he spoke about the need to crack down on illegal drugs.