In a sit down interview with PIX11 News aired Monday night, NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly implored a Parole Board to deny the killers of Officer Edward Byrne who was killed in 1988 in one of the most high profile police deaths in New York City history.

“It was the cold-blooded nature of it, this was planned,” Kelly recalled referring to the manner in which the rookie cop was killed – a hit ordered by then drug lord Howard “Pappy” Mason, “officers are injured or killed responding to an emergency situation. Here the deliberate nature of this assassination really shocked the department.”

On the morning of February 26, 1988, four men who worked for “Pappy”Mason snuck up to the squad car in which Byrne sat alone while guarding the home of a witness in a drug case which had already been firebombed twice. Byrne was shot 5 times in the head so quickly that his gun was still in his holster when police responded to the scene. In the days that followed, all 4 men responsible for his death were tracked down and arrested. They would be found guilty.

Byrne’s murder marked a crucial moment in NYC history and it became clear the crack-cocaine epidemic had taken over the streets. “From 1985 to 1990, the homicide rate in New York went up 60% ,” said Kelly “Crack hit this city like a tidal wave… you would step out on the street and onto crack vials on the ground.” Byrne’s death led to the formation of a Narcotics Tactical Unit combing NYPD and federal law enforcement with the sole purpose of dismantling the drug empires. It would pave to way for NYC experiencing the most radical crime drop of any large city in the nation.

As progress has flowed for 25 years, time has also been ticking of the sentences of the four men who killed Officer Byrne now eligible for parole. This Friday, the Byrne family will make their first appearance before the board and they will have plenty of support from the Police Commissioner who has sent a letter asking parole be denied, to a petition generated by PIX11 on behalf of the Byrne family.

Join the Petition: