CBS News 2

October 21, 2015

Makeshift Memorial For Fallen NYPD Officer Randolph Holder Continues To Grow In East Harlem

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A makeshift memorial continue to grow in East Harlem for the NYPD officer who was shot and killed in the line of duty as his family prepares for his funeral.

Memories of Officer Randolph Holder are still fresh in the minds of many stopping and reflecting outside Police Service Area 5 where the 33-year-old cop served.

“It really hurt me to see them take a police officer who really wanted to help the community,” East Harlem resident Robert Collington told CBS2’s Janelle Burrell.

“He didn’t deserve to go and leave this Earth the way that he left this Earth,” said resident Sandra Tripp, who said Holder was a mentor to her son. “I knew him very well. My son, he was in a lot of drama and he helped pull him out of the drama.”

Fellow officers are also paying tribute, leaving candles and flowers. Some were left by the family of Officer Wenjian Liu, who was killed in the line of duty last year. Their note to Holder’s family said: “All our thoughts and prayers are with you all. Please stand strong.”

Tyrone Howard, who is accused of stealing a bike and fatally shooting Holder in the head after a chase Tuesday night, was arraigned late Wednesday in Manhattan Criminal Court. He did not enter a plea after being charged with first-degree murder and robbery and was ordered held without bail.

Assistant District Attorney Linda Ford said the case against Howard would be presented to a grand jury on Friday and Monday. His attorney, Brian Kennedy, did not ask for bail and said he wasn’t sure yet if his client would testify before the grand jury.

At his arraignment, Howard wore a white jumpsuit and appeared to slouch down during the proceeding in front of a standing room only crowd of NYPD officers. One of the officer’s yelled out, “I hope you burn in hell.”

Kennedy, his attorney, said Howard had been suffering from chest pain.

“There’s a lot of details we don’t yet know in this tragic event,” Kennedy said. “We don’t know Mr. Howard’s involvement. We don’t know if there was a gun recovered. There’s a lot of missing details.”

Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, voiced his members’ anger after the arraignment.

“This coward couldn’t even stand up. Yesterday evening, he was able to run. Yesterday evening, he was able to pull a gun. Yesterday evening, he was tough enough to pull that trigger and kill a police officer,” Lynch said.

Several of the officer’s family members also were in the courtroom, sobbing. Some shouted at Howard during the proceeding.

“Once you met him, you loved him,” Holder’s cousin, George Johnson, said. “He was respectful. There was nothing not to like about him. Everything about him was good.”

Holder and his partner had responded to a report of shots fired near a public housing development in East Harlem. When they arrived, a man said his bike had been stolen at gunpoint and the thief fled with a group of people along a footpath near the East River.

The officers caught up to a man with a bike on a pedestrian overpass that spans a highway and traded gunfire, police said.

“He puts the bike down, he pulls out his weapon and he fires one time, striking the officer in the front of the head,” Chief of Manhattan Detectives William Aubry said.

After Holder was shot, the gunman ditched the bike and fled, police said. He was caught several blocks away with a gunshot wound to his leg, Bratton said.

Howard had an extensive arrest record and got out of jail and into a drug treatment program months before police said he killed Holder and while he was wanted in another shooting.

Bratton described Howard, 30, as a dangerous career criminal who never should have been on the streets, calling him a “poster boy for not being diverted” to a treatment-oriented drug court instead of to prison.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Howard was among the thousands of people responsible for a disproportionate amount of violence citywide. He echoed the police commissioner’s insistence that Howard should have been locked away, saying “someone like this shouldn’t have been on the streets.”

But the judge who referred Howard to the diversion program said he had no reason to believe Howard was violent.

“Why is this guy at least a candidate (for diversion)? Because nothing else has worked,” state Supreme Court Justice Edward McLaughlin said.

Howard, who has four felony drug convictions and did stints in state prison, was arrested in October 2014 along with 18 other people and charged with selling crack cocaine to an undercover officer at a public housing complex.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr.’s office recommended Howard serve seven years on that charge.

But McLaughlin was persuaded to refer the case to a team dedicated to screeningcandidates for drug treatment, a decision another judge approved, since Howard had no convictions for violent offenses and after reading a social worker’s report detailing Howard’s troubled home life and longtime addiction to PCP.

Howard, who has two children, then was bailed out of jail in February, pleaded guilty to the drug charge and was making regular court appearances until late August, when he skipped a court date, court system spokesman David Bookstaver said.

Days later, Howard shot and wounded a gang member, police said. Investigators had made 10 unsuccessful attempts to arrest him at various addresses before Tuesday’s shooting.

Police said Howard has been arrested 28 times since age 13 and had a history of violence. They said he was arrested in connection with a 2009 shooting that injured an 11-year-old and a 78-year-old.

“It’s unfortunate that there are people in our city, in our society, that, despite our best efforts — they’re criminals,” Bratton said. “And this individual, I think, is one of those.”

But McLaughlin said that he never saw a record indicating a shooting arrest and that a conviction for such a violent offense would have barred Howard from qualifying for the diversion program. A spokesman for prosecutors didn’t respond to questions about that arrest.

A lawyer who represented Howard in the recent drug case, Robert Levy, said his client was trying to get into a residential treatment program before he skipped his court dates.

Holder, a five-year veteran, made 125 arrests in his career and was awarded six departmental citations for his work. The Guyana native, 33, was the son and grandson of police officers and worked in a division that polices public housing developments.

His father was seen outside their home in Far Rockaway, where the family is now preparing for his funeral.

“The world needs to know that, that young man was irreplaceable and the sacrifice that he gave to the city was just a small example of the sacrifices that many members of the service give,” one neighbor said.

The Empire State Building was lit in blue last night in honor of Holder. The mayor said the tribute honors a brave man whose mission was to protect New York.

De Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered flags to fly at half-staff at state and municipal buildings in honor of the fallen officer. They will remain that way until the day after his funeral.

Holder is the second NYPD officer killed in the line of duty this year and the fourth in the past 11 months.

But while line-of-duty police slayings are down from a high of 12 in 1971, the four officers killed in the past 11 months represent more than in any 12-month period in recent years, police records show.

Holder’s wake will be held next Tuesday. His funeral will be Wednesday in Queens. He’ll be buried in his native Guyana.