The man who gives legal advice to the NYPD will set aside his job Friday to make his way to a parole board hearing for his brother’s killers.
In a case that garnered national headlines, Police Officer Edward Byrne was ambushed and shot to death by drug dealers while guarding a witnesses’ home in Queens in February, 1988.
The NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner for Legal Matters Lawrence Byrne, 56, will once again make the case to the parole board that the four killers should not be released from prison.
Philip Copeland, Todd Scott, Scott Cobb, and David McClary are serving sentences of 25 years-to-life in state prison.
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They were previously rejected for parole in 2012 and 2014.
“I think about my brother every day, but I don't think about the vivid details of what happened every day,” Byrne said in his 14th floor office in police headquarters, binders containing supportive letters from mayors, police commissioner, senators and judges sitting next to him on a table.
So, Byrne prepared for the somber task on Wednesday night by going through records of the case.
“What I did last night is watch again the videotaped post arrest statements the defendants made and hear them talking about laughing when they see Eddie's brains coming out of his head,” Byrne said, his voice cracking with emotion.
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“That only strengthens my resolve to make sure that these guys never get out of jail.”
Byrne also looked over the killers’ statements to parole. He says all four of them insisted they bore little or no responsibility for the horrific crime.
“They still 28 years later, accept no responsibility and show no recognition of what a terrible crime it is,” he said.
Drug dealer Howard “Pappy” Mason told Copeland to “ice a cop” from jail. Mason is now serving life without parole in federal prison.
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The four killers drew straws to decide who would kill an officer, and McClary got the short straw.
Edward Byrne, just 22, was tasked on Feb. 26, 1988 to spend his midnight tour in a patrol car outside a witness’s house.
Scott walked up to the passenger’s side of the patrol car and distracted Byrne. McClary then shot Byrne five times in the head.
During Byrne’s two-year tenure in the NYPD, five city officers have been killed in the line of duty.
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“This is not just because of my loss of Eddie,” he said. “It's very important to send a message that if you shoot and kill a police officer you are going to spend the rest of your life in prison.”
Philip Copeland (l.) and Todd Scott are serving 25 years to life in prison for their roles in the killing.
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